Turkish occupied Famagusta’s Mayor Simos Ioannou has expressed the view that if the fenced-off part of the city, known as Varosha, is settled it will be the gravestone of the Cyprus problem.
Ioannou was speaking after an extraordinary meeting of the municipal council yesterday, in Deryneia, which took place in the presence of Famagusta MPs, to discuss steps to be taken after a Turkish Bar Association event was organized in Varosha with the participation of Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay and Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül.
The Municipal Council issued a resolution condemning the “unacceptable actions” of Turkish occupying authorities and urging on all citizens of Famagusta and the Cypriot people “to show a spirit of determination and to unite forces with the Mayor and the elected Municipal Council of Famagusta which will take anew steps and actions in cooperation with Cyprus’ political actors.”
After the meeting, the Municipal Council’s members and MPs marched to the Deryneia cross – point in a symbolic protest “as an immediate reaction on Turkey’s illegal actions.”
In his statement, Ioannou said that it was unanimously agreed that the main aim will be to avoid the creation of faits – accomplis with the settling of the fenced-off area, which “would be the gravestone of the Cyprus problem and would close the Cyprus problem.”
He also noted among other things, that handing over Varosha before the solution of the Cyprus problem would not focus the issue only on Famagusta but rather that it would be a measure showing goodwill.
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 be extended to include Varosha.
Efforts over the years for the legitimate citizens of Famagusta to return to the city have met with the refusal of the Turkish side, despite numerous decisions and resolutions by the UN, EU and other international institutions.
Kudret Ozersay, the “foreign minister” of the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, arranged in late August a press visit for Turkish Cypriot and Turkish journalists and media in the fenced-off part of Famagusta for the first time in 45 years and announced that he will gradually open the city.