US Senators urge Biden to sanction Turkey over Varosha

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Fourteen US Senators have asked US President Joe Biden to prevent Turkey from opening the coastline of Varosha by threatening sanctions if Ankara does so.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez, Senators Chris Van Hollen and Marco Rubio, joined by 11 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Biden, urged the administration to utilize bilateral and multilateral channels to pressure Turkey to halt its illegal actions.

“You have rightly centred US foreign policy on principles of human rights and the rule of law.

“Any attempt by President Erdogan and Turkey to resettle or reopen Varosha would represent a gross violation of those principles,” the Senators wrote.

“The US and the EU should make clear to President Erdogan that continuing to violate UNSC Resolutions and the rule of law is unacceptable.”

The Senators also raised concerns that Turkey’s transgressions in Varosha come as it blocks progress in the United Nations’ 5+1 Cyprus reunification talks.

“The Turkish Cypriots’ proposal to establish two states in Cyprus at the most recent round in Geneva—the first since negotiations broke down in 2017—undermined prospects to reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in accordance with UNSC Resolutions and long-standing policy.

“As further evidence of its unwillingness to seek a durable political settlement on the island, Turkey has reportedly established a base for unmanned aerial vehicles at Lefkoniko airport, in an effort to expand its military presence in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.”

They said Erdogan’s plan to visit Varosha on July 20, the anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, will only exacerbate an unacceptable situation.

“We urge you to work in tandem with the EU to make clear, in advance, that any attempt by Turkey to support the resettlement or reopening of Varosha will be met by multilateral sanctions.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and still occupies 37% of the island’s territory.

Varosha, the fenced-off resort of Turkish occupied Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’.

UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers 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.

On October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha for the first time in 46 years.

The UN Security Council called for the action to be reversed.

Turkey’s behaviour

President Nicos Anastasiades said he expects the UN and the EU to respond accordingly to Turkey’s behaviour.

He said the government aims to prevent any fait accompli in Famagusta.

“Every effort is to prevent any fait acccompli that Turkey may seek through the presence or any announcements of the Turkish President”.

“I expect from both the UN and the EU to respond accordingly to Turkey’s behaviour “. (source CNA)