Turkish forces invaded Cyprus in 1974. This was in response to a coup by a Greek Cypriot paramilitary group backed by the Cypriot National Guard and the Greek Military Council. This led to the partition of Cyprus along the UN-supervised Green Line, which still exists today. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared independent with only Turkey recognized.
Over the years, mediators under the auspices of the United Nations have tried unsuccessfully to bring the parties together for talks on reunification, ending the division that characterizes the island and endangering entire communities, such as a formerly prosperous port city. Famagusta. Until 1974, the Varosha region was a tourist resort with hotels, apartment buildings and shops along the beach.
But when the Turkish army arrived, the residents fled in panic and Varosha was fenced off with barbed wire, oil drums, and tarpaulins. Buildings fell into disrepair and vegetation was slowly pushed off the asphalt. According to the UN resolution adopted in 1984, only Varosha residents can settle there again.
However, during an official visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week to celebrate the Turkish invasion of Northern Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced that an area opened for daily visits in November 2020 in Maras (Turkish name Varosha) will be converted to civilian use with an opportunity For people to take back their property.
Life will resume. Erdogan said that a new era will begin in Maras that will benefit everyone.
In a speech in the Turkish-controlled part of the capital Nicosia, he reiterated his demand for a two-state solution, that is, the division of the island into a Greek Cypriot state in the south and a Turkish Cypriot state in the north.
“Negotiations cannot make any progress if all parties do not recognize the existence of two peoples and two states with equal rights,” he said, rejecting UN peace efforts.
– He said we can’t waste another 50 years on this topic.
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It immediately drew heavy criticism from the Greek Cypriot side, but also internationally from the European Union and the United States.
“I want to send the strongest possible message to Mr. Erdogan and his political deputy that these are unacceptable actions and no demands from Turkey will be accepted,” said Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Brussels will never agree to a split. EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell described the actions of the Turkish Cypriot separatist section as an “unacceptable unilateral decision”. The French Foreign Ministry spoke of a provocation and damage to confidence. So did US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in a comment:
– The United States considers Turkey’s move on the Varosha issue to be provocative and unacceptable and contrary to the country’s previous commitment to engage in constructive talks.
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Erdogan has an interest in the Turkish presence
President Erdogan has an economic and geopolitical interest in the Turkish presence in the region. This gives him an argument to claim the existence of potential gas and oil reserves in the territorial sea around northern Cyprus. The provocative explorations he made in the Mediterranean took place in violation of international law and in a confrontation with the European Union, including the army.
For the European Union, the United States, and NATO defense, Erdogan is a problem with his armed involvement in Syria, Libya, Azerbaijan and perhaps soon Afghanistan. It is in a bloody conflict with the Kurds in Turkey and in neighboring countries, pursues an increasingly authoritarian policy at home, and has a sensitive West-West relationship with Russia over Syria and arms deals.
At the same time, the EU is counting on Erdogan to prevent new refugee disasters. His intrigues over Cyprus make the fragile equilibrium even more difficult if possible.
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