Nineteen members of the US Congress have signed a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urging action against Turkish and Turkish Cypriot attempts to reopen Varosha, the southern part of Famagusta that has been fenced off and abandoned since Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus in 1974.
The Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues initiative launched by its co-chair and co-founder Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY, fellow co-chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Chris Pappas (D-NH), calls on Guterres to “firmly assert the United Nations’ authority to administer and prevent the resettlement of Varosha, pursue the immediate and full implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions on Varosha, and examine sanctions against Turkish and Turkish Cypriot attempts to illegally and unilaterally reopen and resettle this city.”
“As members of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, we are dismayed but not surprised by [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s irresponsible comments rejecting any solution that does not acquiesce to Turkey’s demands to divide Cyprus and her people. We encourage all relevant stakeholders to pursue a solution in line with the various resolutions of the Security Council, but the Republic of Turkey’s consistent provocative behavior demonstrates it is not serious about being a responsible actor in this matter,” the letter says.
The letter outlines the details of Turkish claims in the area and reminds of Ankara’s most recent violations of international law and UN resolutions. It also sounds the alarm over the far-reaching consequences if Turkey’s plans to develop the seaside resort come to fruition.
“On October 6, 2020, you emphasized in a statement that ‘the position of the United Nations on Varosha remains unchanged and is guided by relevant Security Council resolutions’ and stressed the ‘need to avoid any unilateral actions that could trigger tensions on the island and undermine the return to dialogue or the future success of talks.’ Since your statement, Turkey’s unilateral reopening has not abated, and on July 19-20, 2021 President Erdogan declared part of Varosha to be reopened and administered by the illegitimate Turkish administration on Cyprus,” the letter reminds.
“Turkey’s reopening of Varosha – a cultural keystone for Cypriots and a city where the return of refugees and the process of rebuilding a modern metropolis can serve as a building block for a reunited Cyprus – clouds the prospects for a peaceful future,” it adds.