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US Warns Turkey on “Provocative” and “Unacceptable” Cyprus Stance

Varosha, Cyprus. Credit: TomasNY /CC BY 2.5

The United States sent a stern warning to Turkey on the anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus in 1974, saying it stands opposed to any unilateral decision to open Varosha, which was established as a no-man’s land by UN decree.

Turkey is planning to reopen the former seaside resort to tourists in direct violation of the UN’s restrictions on the area, which is on the border of occupied northern Cyprus.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the decision to open Varosha. In a tweet late on Tuesday he said: “We condemn the decision to have Turkish Cypriots take control over parts of Varosha, which is inconsistent with UN resolutions, unacceptable, and incompatible with past commitments to resume settlement talks. We urge a reversal of this decision and steps taken since Oct. 2020.”

Earlier on Tuesday, a State Department announcement reiterated Washington’s position in support of a bipartisan solution to the Cyprus issue.

The statement expressed “deep concern” regarding the unilateral decision made by the Turkish Cypriots, with the support of Turkey, to reopen part of Varosha Beach in October 2020.

“This move was incompatible with UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789. Our position has not changed: any further steps in this direction would be provocative and counterproductive to the resumption of the settlement talks,” the statement read.

The US continues to support a comprehensive settlement for the reunification of Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, along with its ally, Greece.

Earlier on Tuesday, Greece and Cyprus condemned the announcement made by Turkey and its puppet regime in the north of Cyprus to open a part of Varosha in Famagusta in contravention of UN resolutions.

President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said the announcement was an “effort to alter the status quo” and added that “unity and the continued effort through the ‘weapons’ provided by international law, the EU and the principles of justice are the way to avert Turkey’s pursuits.”

Anastasiades also announced an extraordinary session of the National Council on Wednesday to assess the situation and make decisions on further steps.

Greece and the EU, in solidarity with Cyprus, condemn reopening of Varosha

The Greek Foreign Ministry also issued a statement condemning plans to reopen part of Famagusta. The ministry said the latest announcement is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, as well as with the conclusions of the European Council and the calls by the international community.

“Turkey must immediately stop its provocative and lawless behavior and comply with international law,” it said.

US Senators, led by longtime supporter of Greece Bob Menendez (D-NJ), recently sent a letter to President Biden asking for sanctions on Ankara regarding the unilateral reopening of Varosha.

Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union, stood firmly in support of Cyprus, calling the reopening of Varosha an “unacceptable unilateral decision.”

He also reiterated the fact that members of the EU most comply with the resolutions regarding Varosha, and that  “No actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha that are not in accordance with those Resolutions. The EU continues to hold the government of Turkey responsible for the situation in Varosha.”

“The EU once again underlines the need to avoid unilateral actions in breach of international law and renewed provocations, which could raise tensions on the island and compromise a return to talks on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue in line with UN Security Council Resolutions,” said Borrell.

US Shows Firm Support for Republic of Cyprus

The state Department’s longtime policy on Cyprus states that all US administrations since the invasion of Cyprus have viewed UN-facilitated, Cypriot-led settlement negotiations as the best means to achieve a fair and permanent settlement. The US continually urges all parties to implement confidence-building measures and improve bicommunal relations.

The United States has been working closely with the Republic of Cyprus to advance shared priorities in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Cooperation between the United States and the ROC is at a historic high, with new ground broken in the security relationship between the two countries, beginning with the Statement of Intent on bilateral security cooperation that was signed with Cyprus in late 2018.

The security partnership between the two countries has continued to deepen, with the accreditation of the ROC’s first Defense Attaché at its embassy in Washington, along with joint military exercises, port visits by U.S. naval vessels to Cyprus, and senior-level visits to the ROC by U.S. military leadership.

On December 2019, the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 was signed into law, highlighting the United States’ security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and as the State Department says, countering Russia’s malign influence in the region.

The bilateral partnership also continues to grow in other areas of common interests, such as promoting peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean, diversifying European energy sources, fostering opportunities for greater trade and investment, and protecting Cyprus’ rich cultural heritage.

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