The return of the sealed-off Varosha area of Famagusta to its lawful owners is expected to be one of the key elements of the negotiations on a comprehensive Cyprus settlement between both communities under UN auspices, pledged Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fule.
Replying to Cypriot MEP Antigoni Papadopoulou on behalf of the Commission, Fule said that a “comprehensive settlement agreed between the leaders of the two communities constitutes the quickest and most direct way to solving the problems related to the Cyprus issue, including on the return of Varosha to its lawful owners”.
The Commission, he further said, “welcomes the agreement of 11 February 2013 between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on a joint declaration and on the resumption of fully-fledged negotiations on a comprehensive settlement with the aim to reach a settlement as soon as possible”.
Regarding Turkey’s contribution to an overall solution of the Cyprus issue, Fule referred Papadopoulou to the 2013 Progress Report on Turkey.
Fule noted that as indicated in the statement of the European Union welcoming the joint declaration, the European Union supports, within this context, the efforts to reach an agreement between the two parties on a package of Confidence-Building Measures which can help to create momentum towards a settlement to the benefit of the Cypriot people.
He reiterated the “European Union stands ready to look creatively at how to contribute to this objective in the prospects of a final settlement”.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Previous UN –led efforts to reunify the island have failed. Talks resumed after the leaders of the island’s two community leaders, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, agreed on a seven point Joint Declaration outlining their vision of a reunited Cyprus.
The town of Famagusta has been under Turkish occupation since the Turkish invasion. The fenced off area of the town, called Varosha, has remained uninhabited, abandoned to the elements. It remains to this day under the control of the Turkish military, in spite of repeated UN calls for its return to UN administration to enable the return of its lawful inhabitants. The walled city of Famagusta, close to the city port on the eastern coast, is inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers.
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