Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades says the “audacity” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been fueled by Great Britain and the UN’s special envoy to Cyprus, with the Greek Cypriot leader suggesting during an interview this week that a veto on the EU’s positive agenda with Ankara has not been ruled out.
Anastasiades, who was on an official visit to Athens on Tuesday, sat down for an interview with Euronews in the Greek capital where he described as “unhelpful” UN and UK attempts to bridge the gap within the Security Council concerning Cyprus.
The Cypriot president’s visit came in the wake of condemnation in the form of a presidential statement by the United Nations Security Council regarding Turkish and Turkish Cypriot plans to partially open Varosha, an abandoned ghost town in the north of the divided island that had up until recently a complex role in failed UN-backed peace negotiations over half a century.
“Mr Erdogan’s audacity is not a coincidence because there are those who are under the impression that they can interpret even UN resolutions or their clarity if you will,” Anastasiades said, referring to the UK as well as special UN Cyprus envoy Elizabeth Spehar.
Last week Greek Cypriot media said a member of the Security Council pointed to a statement attributed to Spehar, during her briefing behind closed doors, suggesting members should use a broader perspective on Security Council resolutions on Cyprus otherwise they would be too narrow.
In his interview, Anastasiades also went on to criticize the UK, accusing one of Cyprus’ three guarantor powers of submitting proposals that, while they could be seen as an attempt to bridge the gap, “essentially they gradually satisfy what Turkey is after.”
“As a result, instead of containing effrontery, they are boosting revisionism, aggression, and unlawful acts in general,” the Cypriot president said.
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 Cypriots have labeled the Turkish Cypriot decision, which is backed by Ankara, “a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” while EU and UNSC statements have condemned unilateral actions on Varosha by Turkey.
But Ankara argues that Varosha is part of territory administered by Turkish Cypriots, adding that the authorities in the north never previously opened the ghost town for settlement but declared the area military zone as a “good will gesture.”
The ghost town had been destined to return under Greek Cypriot administration as part of a negotiated peace deal with many attempts failing time and again over the decades.
But Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has argued that a 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 in accordance with the law.”
Against the backdrop of Ankara remaining defiant towards recent criticism, Anastasiades also said during his interview that he did not rule out a veto on the EU’s positive agenda with Ankara or other “measures that would need to be adopted by the European side.”
“To put rhetoric aside, we shall see how Turkey will behave and of course nothing is ruled out,” he said.
A draft on a UNSC resolution renewing UNFICYP’s mandate has also been the focus of attention according to the Cyprus News Agency, which reported that permanent members have sought a clearer reference to the solution formula in the Cyprus Problem.
Greek Cypriots insist that peace talks ought to restart on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal, federation, while Turkish Cypriots in the north have called for a two-state formula, accusing the south of not being sincere in sharing power in a federal country.