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Turkey’s Regime In Occupied Cyprus Removes Greek Signs Before Erdogan Visit

Erdogan Cyprus
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Credit: Turkish Presidency / Twitter

The occupying forces of Turkey in Cyprus removed recently Greek signs in the ghost town of Varosha in Famagusta, ahead of the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan there next week.

The provocative action took place in the beautiful building of the Gymnasium of the town, which had a big inscription at the top, saying ”Ellinikon Gymnasion” which translates as ”Greek High School.”

Erdogan Cyprus
The Greek High School in Famagusta in 1954. Credit: Edwards of Limassol- Vassos Stylianou collection

The local Turkish Cypriot ”authorities” are ramping up their works to accommodate President Erdogan, who will be there on Monday and Tuesday, July 19-20.

Turkey Stirs Tensions in Cyprus

Erdogan stirred tensions last week before his trip to Cyprus on 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 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.

Earlier this month, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warned Turkey’s leader not to jeopardize a push for better ties with the bloc by inflaming tensions.

The controversial visit comes as the EU — of which Cyprus is a member — is looking to improve ties with Turkey after tensions spiked in the eastern Mediterranean last year, when Ankara carried out illegal explorations for gas in Greek and Cypriot waters.

“This is a very sensitive topic for us. And we are very clear that we will of course observe how this visit will go and that we will never, ever accept as a European Union a two-state solution,” von der Leyen told the press after an EU summit in Brussels.

“These clear messages have been sent. I said it personally to the president. So it’s up to him now to set a positive signal.”

Last Erdogan 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.”

At that visit the Turkish President celebrated the 37th anniversary of the illegal declaration of the establishment of the so-called ”Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” an illegal entity not recognized by anyone in the world but Ankara.

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