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‘Varosha return would boost upcoming talks’

British High Commissioner Matthew Kidd

By Stefanos Evripidou

RETURNING THE fenced off part of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants would be a “wonderful” thing, said British High Commissioner Matthew Kidd yesterday.

Speaking outside the Presidential Palace after meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, the British diplomat said he hoped the president’s aim to start the peace talks with new energy and new ideas will work.

He said the two sides appeared to be preparing “seriously” for the resumption of talks next month.

Anastasiades has argued repeatedly that the two sides should not engage in another round of peace talks just for the sake of it. The talks need to be well prepared so that they can start with a new dynamic and provide the people with hope that a result could actually be achieved, he said.

The government has proposed the return of Varosha in the occupied part of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants under UN control, in exchange for opening Famagusta port to international trade and unfreezing a number of chapters in Turkey’s EU accession negotiations.

Asked about the government’s Varosha proposal, Kidd said: “Of course it would be wonderful to have Famagusta returned.”

He added: “I think it is a big job, it is not something that you could do with a turn of a switch from one day to the next but leading towards this, again as quickly as can happen, will certainly have a remarkable effect on the climate of the negotiations more generally.”

Asked how Britain could help achieve this “new dynamic” and create good will from both interlocutors, the diplomat said all his country could and always tries to do is be in touch with both sides “to help each side to understand some of the real preoccupations of the other” and find ways to overcome the well-known difficulties.

Anastasiades also met with Chinese Ambassador to Nicosia Liu Xinsheng yesterday as part of meetings he plans to hold with the representatives of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, Russia, United State, Britain and France) ahead of his participation in the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

Government spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday played down reports in the Turkish press that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has prepared a plan to open Varosha to its lawful inhabitants but under Turkish Cypriot rule.

Turkish media reported that Eroglu is preparing to open the closed off ‘ghost town’, and allow Greek Cypriot displaced persons to return so long as they first apply to the immoveable property commission in the north.

At the same time, instead of coming under UN or Cyprus Republic control, Eroglu allegedly wants the town’s administration to be handled by the Turkish Cypriot municipality in the occupied part of Famagusta while security would be handled by the Turkish Cypriot police who come under the direct control of the Turkish occupation army.

Stylianides said the government’s proposal on Varosha, on which the international community has already been informed, has nothing to do with an alleged proposal reported in the Turkish media.

He said the Cypriot government’s initiative was “most appropriate as part of a new dynamic for the resumption of talks” on the Cyprus problem.

The spokesman said the government would deal with the issue away from the public eye and through diplomacy, adding that there was still a long road ahead.

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