Varosha: Turkey reopens deserted Cyprus resort but tourists will wait

Friday, 09 Oct, 2020

Cyprus has been divided between Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking regions since Turkey occupied the northern part in the wake of a 1974 coup by Greek-Cypriot supporters of union with Greece.

"It's an election stunt", Andromachi Sophocleous, a political analyst and consultant in Nicosia, Cyprus, told Al-Monitor.

Tensions were further stoked on the island of Cyprus on Tuesday when Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar announced the reopening of a beach in the abandoned town of Varosha in northern Cyprus. "We are ready to give any support to TRNC officials on this issue", Erdoğan said.

In 1992, Resolution 789 said that if Varosha could not be returned to its Greek-Cypriot inhabitants, it should at least be put under the control of the UN's UNFICYP. The report also said Turkish authorities continue to pressure civil society, aid groups and the media.

The move was quickly condemned by the global community, with the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres releasing a statement October 6 urging regional leaders to "avoid any unilateral actions that could trigger tensions on the island and undermine the return to dialogue" or future reunification talks.

The latest developments add to pre-existing tensions between Washington and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, which serves as a pivotal location for American troops conducting operations in both the Middle East and Europe.

He is challenging incumbent Mustafa Akinci in the vote, which was delayed from April by the Covid-19 pandemic. Akinci has criticized Turkey's foreign policy in the past.

The alleged use of the radar system was set to set off alarm bells in Washington, the paper said, over Turkey going ahead with testing, which could lead to sanctions from the U.S. as well although Erdogan is a favorite of President Donald Trump.

Greece has accused Turkey of illegally carrying out seismic exploration in parts of the Mediterranean claimed by Athens and Cyprus, but Turkey says its operations are within global law.

He warned that the developments would "cause greater tensions and may complicate efforts for the resumption of Cyprus settlement talks".

On October 2, the European Union said it "strongly condemns the violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus which must stop", but did not explicitly mention sanctions.

Ersin Tatar, premier of the breakaway state of Northern Cyprus, made the announcement in Ankara alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who said he backed the decision on Varosha, sealed off within barbed wire for decades.

With Turkish Cypriot troops manning the site, the beach has now been reopened just three days before Turkish Cypriots elect a new leader who will represent them in peace talks facilitated by the United Nations. "So I think we have to overcome this problem at some point".