MEPs are set to visit Cyprus in early May to attempt to enter the fenced off town of Varosha, in the occupied Famagusta area, Akel MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou said on Tuesday.
Hadjigeorgiou said the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (Peti) decided on Monday to carry out a fact-finding visit to Cyprus and more specifically Varosha, most probably between May 7 and 8.
The MEP said it was imperative for the committee to again put Varosha “under the telescope” following media reports in the north that part of the town is to be given by the Turkish military to be used for touristic purposes.
“The city is a symbol of violation of basic fundamental principles and values. Values that all European citizens enjoy and must be taken for granted,” Hadjigeorgiou said.
Peti attempted to enter Varosha during another fact-finding visit in 2007 but were denied entry by the Turkish military. That visit was prompted by a petition filed by the Famagusta Refugee Movement, representing over 37,000 people, in which they had requested the assistance of the European Parliament to ensure that the European Commission’s initiatives to stimulate the economic development of northern Cyprus include the return of the closed area of Famagusta.
The committee, Hadjigeorgiou said will make another attempt to enter Varosha, but for it to be successful, it must “have strong and organised support” from everyone in Cyprus.
Hadjigeorgiou urged all political parties to support this initiative and all refugees, be they from Famagusta or Kyrenia.
“Unless this descent (on the island) of Europe is not combined with a mass support of the idea of our city being returned and of a settlement solution, then the results will be just another report,” he said.
In its report, following their 2007 visit, Peti said it had sought access to Varosha and that several attempts were made by the delegation, via contacts with the Turkish authorities in Brussels, Ankara and the occupied areas, “but there was a persistent ‘lack of response’ from the Turkish military which never gave us the requested authorisation”.
The committee said: “It is clear that Varosha must be returned to its lawful owners and inhabitants… But for this to happen, the United Nations must continue to be primarily, directly and actively responsible”.