The EU, U.S. and UK have strongly objected to the announcement late on Tuesday by the breakaway regime in divided Cyprus’ northern part of a partial reopening of Varosha (Famagusta) for potential resettlement.
The Turkish move on the ghost town and former resort of Varosha is in violation of UN resolutions and have been slammed as “unacceptable” by the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Cyprus is divided since a 1974 invasion by Turkey which still maintains troops in the north part of the EU-member state.
The announcement was preceded by a speech on the divided island by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip on a two-state solution in Cyprus.
He had thrown his weight behind the controversial plans for the partial reopening of Varosha abandoned by its Greek Cypriot inhabitants in 1974.
“We don’t have another 50 years to waste,” Erdogan told a crowd at a parade to mark the 47th anniversary of his country’s July 20 invasion.
He was referring to decades of failed UN-led efforts to reunite the Greek and Turkish Cypriot-controlled sectors of Cyprus.
“No progress can be made in negotiations without accepting that there are two peoples and two states with equal status,” he had said.
“The doors of a new period that will benefit everyone will open in Varosha,” Erdogan had also said.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who is close to Erdogan and supports a two-state solution rather than the federation long sought in UN-led negotiations, said an initial 3.5 percent of Varosha would “be removed from its military status”.
Erdogan said this showed “how sensitively Turkish Cypriot authorities approach this issue”.
But the European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell swiftly slammed any such move as “an unacceptable unilateral decision”.
The United Nations Security Council responded by calling for a reversal of the decision and “for the parties to avoid any unilateral action that could raise tensions on the island”.
Erdogan insisted that moves to revive the town would respect property rights.