The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has condemned Turkey’s recently announced plan to reopen the coastal town of Varosha (Maraş) in Northern Cyprus, which has remained shuttered since the 1974 conflict that divided the island in two.
“The Security Council calls for the immediate reversal of this course of action and the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020,” the UNSC said on Friday. In its statement the 15-member council raised “the need to avoid any further unilateral actions not in accordance with its resolutions.” It warned that reopening Varosha “could raise tensions on the island and harm prospects for a settlement.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted, rejecting the statement made by the UNSC and indicating that the opposition to Turkey’s move by the US, the EU and other countries were “based on unfounded claims and inconsistent with the realities on the island.”
“Contrary to claims, the relevant UNSC resolutions are not violated. Moreover, the UNSC resolutions are not above property and sovereignty rights,” the ministry added.
Varosha, a ghost town for 47 years, was sealed off after its inhabitants fled during the Turkish invasion following a Greek coup to annex the island. The invasion split Cyprus into a Turkish-controlled north and a Greek Cypriot-controlled south. Thousands of people abandoned their homes in the north of Cyprus as a result of the Turkish occupation.
Turkey has recently turned to a strategy of a two-state solution on the island after the failure of a 2004 UN plan to reunify the country. The “Annan Plan”, also known as the “Cyprus reunification plan”, which was a UN proposal to resolve the Cyprus dispute, was supported by 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots, but rejected by 76 percent of Greek Cypriots in a 2004 referendum.
On a trip to the north of the divided Cypriot capital Nicosia (Lefkosia) on Tuesday to mark the 47th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that there should be “two peoples and two states with equal status.”