Pro-solution opposition parties in northern Cyprus plan to boycott the Turkish president’s address to the Turkish Cypriot assembly scheduled for the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion that left Cyprus divided with thousands dead and hundreds of thousands made refugees from both communities.
News reports suggest that Recep Tayyip Erdogan will deliver “an important speech” on Tuesday that will clearly lay out Ankara’s ambitions on the island and in the south-eastern Mediterranean.
These include using the threat of force in order to gain as much as possible from oil and gas exploration rights allegedly due to Turkish Cypriots on the pretext that Turkey is acting on their behalf as a guarantor power.
Erdogan will also outline his own vision of a solution for the divided island, which in any case would be in clear violation of all UN resolution on Cyprus and contradict past intercommunal high-level agreements that call for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality for both communities on the federal level.
Reports also suggest that the Turkish leader will try to force the UN and other major players, including the EU, to agree to his demands for a confederate solution, again in clear violation of past agreements between the two communities and UN resolutions.
According to Achilleas Demetriades, a prominent lawyer who won a landmark case more than 25 years ago in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on behalf of refugee Titina Loizidou, “it is very encouraging that two mainstream Turkish Cypriot parties are taking a position of principle.
“Mr Erdogan is the president of Turkey, which is the occupying military force of northern Cyprus, and his actions in relation to Varosha are simply not acceptable. They are in breach of individual European human rights in relation to property as established by Loizidou v Turkey in the ECHR,” Demetriades said.
“Furthermore, they are in breach of UN Security Council Resolutions requiring the return of control of Varosha to UNFICYP and the return of its rightful inhabitants. None of the above are respected and the [religious property commission] EVKAF story on property ownership of Varosha is a sham and we have the 1960 colonial settlement to prove it.
“Turkish Cypriots (including EVKAF) received 1.5 million pounds sterling in 1960 in full and final settlement of all property rights against the British Crown. They cannot change their mind now.
“In view of the above, it is my belief that Greek Cypriot owners of properties in Varosha should apply to the Immovable Property Commission of the subordinate to Turkey local administration for restitution of their properties and loss of use.
“The Cyprus government along with the Famagusta municipality in cooperation with the Famagusta Chamber of Commerce, the Hotel Association and Famagusta lawyers and property valuers should mobilise to assist. In this way the rightful owners’ claim will be registered and Turkey will not be able to exploit their properties by giving them to Turkish mainland developers, which only complicates the Cyprus problem and the prospect of a solution,” Demetriades was quoted as saying.