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Von der Leyen urges Turkey to reverse Varosha move

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European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has called on Turkey “to reverse the actions undertaken in Varosha since October 2020”.

She said Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar’s statements on Varosha were “an unacceptable unilateral decision” to change the status of the fenced-off area.

And she repeated the EU’s commitment to a solution based on a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality, and Brussels expects Turkey “to do the same”.

Von der Leyen was responding in writing to a letter by Cypriot MEP Niyazi Kizilyurek on the involvement of the Turkish government in the affairs of the Turkish Cypriot community.

EU Foreign Ministers “will consider actions at their next meeting, in case of non-reversal of Turkey’s actions” that are contrary to UN Security Council resolutions.

The European Council said it would “use the instruments and options at its disposal to defend its interests and those of its Member States, as well as to uphold regional stability”.

In her letter, the MEP’s office publicised, Von der Leyen said the EU has been following developments very closely, including the Turkish President’s visit to the occupied north.

“The EU’s position on the Cyprus issue is unchanged, as confirmed by EU leaders most recently at their meeting in June.

“We learned with deep concern the announcements made by President Erdogan and Mr Tatar on 20 July 2021 on the fenced-off area of Varosha, which constitutes an unacceptable unilateral decision to change its status.”

“No actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha that are not in accordance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, in particular, Resolution 550 (1984) and Resolution 789 (1992)”.

She also notes that respect and implementation of UN resolutions also require an end to UNFICYP’s restriction in the Varosha area.

“It is crucial that Turkey commits and contributes constructively to the resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement…

“It is even more important to avoid unilateral actions in breach of international law and renewed provocations, which could raise tensions on the island and compromise a return to the settlement talks.

“We will continue conveying this crucial message to our Turkish interlocutors”.

Tatar announced in July a partial lifting of the military status in Varosha for public access.

There have been no UN-sponsored peace talks since the Cyprus Conference collapsed in 2017.