Cyprus Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Christodoulides has said that Turkey has repeatedly threatened to settle the fenced area of Famagusta in breach of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the 1987 resolution of the Commission of human rights that expressly condemns any attempt to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as illegal and calls for the immediate cessation of such activities.
Christodoulides, who was addressing the 4th meeting of the 43rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, also referred to the human rights violations in Cyprus following the 1974 Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation of the island’s northern third, which still persist today.
“Investing in the education of young people on human rights is without doubt key in our bid to successfully address challenges,” he said, adding that in the actions and dialogues Cyprus has initiated to commemorate the UN’s 75th anniversary have “have a strong focus on the participation of youth representatives while at the same time highlighting the importance of multilateralism in addressing global challenges.”
He also made particular reference to gender equality, noting that it “is the unfinished business of our time.”
In Cyprus, Christodoulides said, “we have decided to actively mainstream the gender dimension in our foreign policy as one of our priorities and in this context, we have already started to undertake concrete initiatives and actions that strengthen respect for the human rights of women and girls on a national and regional level.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister also spoke of the deeply concerning the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the flow of migrants which have resulted in Cyprus ranking first among European Union member states in first-time asylum applications received per capita for the third consecutive year.
Christodoulides also referred to the annual report of the Office of the UN High Commission on Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus, which is set to be presented soon.
“The mandate of this report stems from the mass human rights violations that have resulted from the 1974 military invasion and subsequent occupation by Turkey that has kept my country forcefully divided ever since,” he noted.
These same violations that persist until today, he added.
“Almost 46 years later, the fate of half of Cyprus missing persons has yet to be determined; All Cypriots forcefully displaced by the Turkish occupation army remain refugees to date and have not been allowed to return to their homes and properties; The enclaved still live in extremely difficult conditions; The cultural heritage in the occupied part of the island which belongs to all Cypriots is being systematically looted and destroyed,” he said.
“While Turkey has repeatedly threatened to settle the fenced area of Famagusta in breach of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the 1987 resolution of the Commission of human rights that expressly condemns any attempt to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as illegal and calls for the immediate cessation of such activities,” he noted.
Christodoulides also pointed out that a lot of people all over the world continue to suffer from violations of their most basic human rights and
“It is our collective duty to redouble our efforts to ensure that no-one will be left behind in our quest to achieve the universality of human rights,” he stressed.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.
Varosha, the fenced-off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’. UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN. UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) also urges that with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus should be extended to include Varosha.
The Turkish Bar Association organized recently a round table meeting in Varosha, for the first time since 1974, which was attended by Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül. Oktay stated that Varosha belongs to the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime and took part in a tour of the fenced-off part of Famagusta.