Cyprus appealed to the UN Security Council on Wednesday over plans by Turkish Cypriot authorities to partially reopen an abandoned resort, as Turkey repeated its call for a two-state solution on the island despite international criticism.
Turkish Cypriots, backed by Ankara, said on Tuesday that part of Varosha — now a military zone and an area touted in the past to be returned to rival Greek Cypriots — would come under civilian control, and be open for potential resettlement.
It triggered an angry reaction from Cyprus’s internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government, and a chorus of disapproval from Western powers, led by the United States which called the move “unacceptable”.
Turkey shrugged off the criticism.
An estimated 17,000 Greek Cypriot residents of Varosha fled the advance of Turkish troops in August 1974. It has remained empty ever since, sealed off with barbed wire and no-entry signs. United Nations resolutions have called for the area to be turned over to UN administration.
Repurposing the area to Turkish Cypriot civilian authorities effectively challenges a widely-held assumption that Varosha would be among the possible areas returned to Greek Cypriot control in the event of a Cyprus peace settlement.
“This is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and will have a negative impact on efforts underway to restart talks,” Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said.
The east Mediterranean island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Peace efforts have repeatedly failed.