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25 September, 2023
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Cyprus wants strong UNSC response on Varosha

Reports unclear on draft but Nicosia hopes debate will lead to strong-worded statement against Turkey


The UN Security Council is scheduled to tackle Varosha on Thursday, after the Republic of Cyprus requested closed consultations to take place following a Turkish Cypriot announcement to reopen part of the ghost town in the north, a move heavily criticized by Greek Cypriots in the south.

(Click here for an update to the story)

According to Kathimerini Greece, a proposed UNSC statement would call on Turkey and Turkish Cypriots to “reverse a decision to reopen” the area in question that would revert a 3.5 square-kilometer section under military status back to civilian control.

It was expected that a British-drafted proposed presidential statement would reiterate “that no actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha that are not in accordance with its resolutions.”

But Greek Cypriot media also reported that debate within the Security Council was said to have included “elevated concern” among some members, both permanent and non-permanent, with some of them calling for stronger language.

A UN Security Council Resolution in May 1984 “considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of that area to the administration of the United Nations.”

Greek Cypriot media said Spehar urged members to have a broader perspective on Security Council resolutions otherwise they would be too narrow

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides labeled the Turkish Cypriot decision, which is backed by Ankara, “a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

But Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has argued that the process through an Immovable Property Committee in the north, which calls on Greek Cypriot property owners to claim their rights through restitution or compensation, would go forward “with respect to property rights and the law.”

It is now up to the Security Council and permanent members to deliver a message, with Nicosia hoping for strong condemnation of Ankara and Turkish Cypriots.

Greek Cypriot media on Thursday said a member of the Security Council pointed to a statement attributed to special UN Cyprus envoy Elizabeth Spehar, during her briefing behind closed doors on Wednesday, suggesting members should view Security Council resolutions from a broader perspective, otherwise they would be too narrow.

In a statement after the briefing, Spehar said the Council was still deliberating on the issue of Varosha and further announcements would be made in due course.

“I expressed the Secretariat’s deep concern over the recent developments and negative impact on the relations between the parties and the possibility to return to viable settlement talks,” she said.

Last week Christodoulides went all out on a preemptive diplomatic strike aimed at garnering support in Brussels, Washington, and the international community to put pressure on Turkey.

Greek Cypriots have specifically called on western powers including Brussels as well as allies on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to exert pressure on Turkey, citing UN resolutions that called for a federal solution on divided Cyprus.

But both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Tatar have said a permanent peace in Cyprus could only come through negotiations based on the international community’s recognition of two separate states on the island, arguing that decades of negotiations to reach a federation-based settlement had failed.

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