The National Council, the country`s top advisory body, is meeting today at the Presidential Palace, under the chairmanship of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to discuss recent developments in the Cyprus issue.
CNA sources say the body is set to discuss the way forward in the Cyprus process and recent developments such as the announcement that the Turkish army has decided to let Maronites return to their villages in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, as well as reports in the press that the fenced – off part of the city of Famagusta, known as Varosha, will be opened.
Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, the Maronites became refugees and the four Maronite villages namely Kormakitis, Karpashia, Asomatos and Agia Marina Skyllouras lie in the Turkish occupied area of the island. With the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, the Maronites had to choose to belong either to the Greek Cypriot or the Turkish Cypriot Community. The Maronites opted to join the Greek Cypriot Community.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has expressed readiness to discuss the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, known as Varosha, under UN aegis as a confidence building measure (CBM), to enable its lawful inhabitants to return to their homes.
Varosha, part of the once thriving holiday resort of Famagusta, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, has been fenced off since the 1974 Turkish invasion and according to the UN the Turkish military is responsible for it. Repeated attempts to hand the fenced off area of Famagusta – known as Varosha – to UN administration and its Greek Cypriot legal inhabitants have so far failed due to the stance of the Turkish army.
President Anastasiades announced that the body would convene in a written statement last Wednesday, when he also informed the public that he had decided, at present, instead of publicising part of the discussions at the July 6th dinner in Crans-Montana, to communicate the minutes to all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, to the Council President, and to send a copy of these minutes to the UN Secretary General and the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission.
The President had said previously that he intended to publicise the minutes of the dinner following statements made by UNSG’s Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide, which the Greek Cypriot side says do not reflect what happened at the dinner, which was part of the UN-facilitated peace talks and was attended by the UN Secretary General, in addition to all interested parties.
In the meantime, Eide is expected to arrive in Cyprus and to have separate meetings with President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Thursday. He will also have a farewell reception at Ledra Palace, in the Nicosia buffer zone, as he will leave his post as Special Adviser before running at the parliamentary elections in Norway, scheduled for September 11.