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Erdogan Stirs Tensions Before Occupied Cyprus Visit

Erdogan Cyprus Varosha
Credit: Turkish Presidency

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stirred tensions on Monday, a week before his trip to Cyprus on July 20 — the anniversary of his country’s invasion to the Mediterranean island in 1974.

Erdogan described the anniversary as a “celebration of peace and freedom,” and promised to send a “strong message to the whole world” that Turkey will support the rights of the self-declared state of the Turkish Cypriots, which is not recognized by any other nation in the international community.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, Erdogan said: “On July 20, we will be in the (self-declared) Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to attend the celebrations of` peace and freedom`, we will go with a large delegation. On the first day of Eid we will be with our Turkish-Cypriot brothers and we will participate in the holidays of July 20th. In this way, we will send a strong message to the whole world that we support the efforts of TRNC to claim its rights.”

It is recalled that Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar also said in the run-up to Erdogan’s visit that the Turkish president would send “strong messages” on July 20 from the Occupied Territories.

In this regard, Ersin Tatar insisted on a two-state solution, describing a sovereignty within the bi-zonal bi-communal federations as a “trap” for the Turkish Cypriots.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday he hoped the bloc would not be forced to hold any extraordinary meetings in response to statements Erdogan might make regarding Varosha when he visits the north next week.

EU warns Erdogan of “a negative spiral” in Cyprus

Speaking after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels, where the EU foreign ministers discussed various issues, including Varosha, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged against “a negative spiral” in Cyprus.

“We are concerned about developments on the ground in Varosha,” he said. He recalled that the EU, through the European Commission and European Council presidents, has repeatedly reaffirmed the status of Varosha “and called for the Turkish authority, not to create a situation that could be against the United Nations decisions”.

He said the status of Varosha was set out in relevant UN Security Council resolutions. “And it’s important, as the two presidents have directly addressed to the higher authorities in Turkey, to refrain from provocative actions.”

Borrell said that the EU’s priority was to focus on seeing the restart of the Cyprus settlement talks. “We are working on trying to avoid any kind of trouble, trying to avoid getting trapped in a negative spiral again.

“Our wish is to work on the settlement of the Cyprus issue,” he said. “Let’s hope that we are going to have in the following days no reasons to call an extraordinary foreign affairs council.”

Erdogan’s last visit to occupied Cyprus

Erdogan sparked anger from Greece, Cyprus, the EU and the US last year with a visit to the beachfront area of Varosha, a one-time luxury resort turned ghost town along a UN buffer zone.

In yet another gesture of complete disregard for international law, Erdogan had  a “picnic” in Varosha, in a move condemned by Greece as “an unprecedented provocation that is in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789 and the Conclusions of the European Council.”

Turkey steps up work at Varosha, in occupied Cyprus

Recently, Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot authorities have stepped up their preparations to open up parts of Varosha.

Photographic and video evidence obtained by the Cyprus News Agency shows that work on the new part of Chrysi Akti (Golden Coast) Beach, which extends to the Venus Hotel and will be accessible to the public, is almost complete.

Turkey which torpedoed the recent UN-organized talks in Geneva, insists on a “two-state” solution on Cyprus, which is rejected by the international community.

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