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UN Security Council condemns Turkish move to reopen Cyprus ghost town Varosha

The UN Security Council demanded to “immediately reverse” the unilateral decision of the leaders of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to open an abandoned suburb of the island of Varosha.

Once a tourist center, Varosha was empty and mostly fenced in after the 1974 invasion that split Cyprus.

On Tuesday, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar announced that the 3.5-square-kilometer portion of the ghost town would move from military to civilian control.

Tatars said that the Greek Cypriots who fled can reclaim their property through the Real Estate Commission (IPC).

But the move sparked an immediate reaction from the Greek Cypriots, who see it as an attempt to force them to sell their property.

On Friday, the UN Security Council released a presidential statement on the issue, endorsed by all 15 member countries.

“The Security Council condemns the statement by the leaders of the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots on July 20, 2021 on the further reopening of part of the fenced-in area of ​​Varosha,” the statement said.

“The Security Council deeply regrets these unilateral actions, which are contrary to its previous resolutions and statements.”

He also called for “an immediate change in this course of action and the cancellation of all steps taken in Varosha since October 2020,” citing the need to avoid any action that could “raise tensions on the island and damage the prospects for a settlement.”

A 1984 UN Security Council resolution states that any attempt to populate any part of Varosha with non-residents would be “unacceptable.”

15,000 Greek Cypriot residents of Varosha fled the advancing Turkish forces in 1974. The area was fenced off until October last year, when the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities first announced its “reopening”.

Some Turkish Cypriots also condemned the move as undermining reconciliation efforts between the two communities.

Numerous rounds of UN-mediated negotiations aimed at reuniting Cyprus have ended in failure, and the final push for a peace agreement in July 2017 ended in an ulcer.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres held informal talks with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in Geneva in April, which also failed to help make progress on the island’s future.

Both Turkish Cypriot Erdogan and the Turkish Cypriot leader Tatars have stated that a lasting peace in Cyprus can only be achieved through international recognition of two separate states.

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