DIASPORA

Menendez, Van Hollen, Rubio lead in urging US-EU response to Turkish provocations in Varosha

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US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), both members of the Committee, were joined on Wednesday by 11 of their Senate colleagues in condemning Turkey’s continuing efforts to open the coastline of Varosha, Cyprus in contravention of several United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions and in defiance of recent calls from the UNSC and the European Council to immediately reverse course.

In a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden, the senators urged the Administration to utilize both bilateral and multilateral channels to pressure Turkey to halt its provocations in Varosha and to clearly articulate the consequences of Turkey’s illegal actions.

“You have rightly centered US foreign policy on principles of human rights and the rule of law. Any attempt by President Erdogan and Turkey to resettle or reopen Varosha would represent a gross violation of those principles,” the senators wrote. “The US and the EU should make clear to President Erdogan that continuing to violate UNSC Resolutions and the rule of law is unacceptable.”

The senators also raised concerns that Turkey’s transgressions in Varosha come as it blocks progress in the United Nations’ 5+1 Cyprus reunification talks.

“The Turkish Cypriots’ proposal to establish two-states in Cyprus at the most recent round in Geneva – the first since negotiations broke down in 2017 – undermined prospects to reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in accordance with UNSC Resolutions and long-standing policy. As further evidence of its unwillingness to seek a durable political settlement on the island, Turkey has reportedly established a base for unmanned aerial vehicles at Lefkoniko airport, in an effort to expand its military presence in Turkish-occupied Cyprus,” the senators added, asserting that President Erdogan’s plan to visit Turkish-occupied Cyprus on July 20, the anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion of Cyprus, will only exacerbate an unacceptable situation.

“We urge you to work in tandem with the EU to make clear, in advance, that any attempt by Turkey to support the resettlement or reopening of Varosha will be met by multilateral sanctions.”

Joining Chairman Menendez and Senators Van Hollen and Rubio in signing the letter were Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).