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Akinci: Varosha opening only within UN framework

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci


No decision has yet been taken on the opening of the fenced-off town of Varosha, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said on Monday, stressing that it must be done within the framework of the parameters defined by the United Nations.

In an interview with Turkish Cypriot daily Milliyet and translated by the Cyprus News Agency, Akinci said the Greek Cypriot side failed to adjust to the UN parameters during the Switzerland peace talks, acting like “a bride that doesn’t want to dance”.

On the rumoured opening of Varosha, the derelict ghost-town to the south of Famagusta, the Turkish Cypriot leader said keeping it sealed off for 43 years benefited no one, and that a solution must be found.

“I said this even before the elections,” he said.

“I asked that Varosha serves the people and not the snakes. I said Greek Cypriots will be able to return here under UN administration, but asked that the Famagusta port be opened and Ercan [Tymbou] airport be recognised for international flights. After my election, I saw no convergence on this – particularly on the issue of Ercan, the Greek Cypriot side would not move.”

At this point, Akinci added, no decision has been made on the issue of Varosha, although he ceded that opening up the town to its lawful inhabitants “all political and legal aspects must be considered”.

“This decision will need to be made in the framework of UN parameters,” he said.

“We are focusing on this.”

In the interview, the Turkish Cypriot leader said the formula for the settlement is a federation based on political equality and power-sharing.

“This was our goal but the Greek Cypriot side did not engage,” he said.

“In this respect, we don’t need to criticise the UN parameters. It is the Greek Cypriot side that did not adhere to these parameters. The whole world saw this. If one of the sides does not adhere to the parameters, it means that it is not ready to share a roof. After all, there are two roofs.”

Akinci was referring to the status quo as the ‘alternative roof’, which he described as the existence of “two states, one of which is unrecognised”.

The self-proclaimed ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ is recognised only by Turkey.

“We are either going to agree on a federal solution and turn the Turkish Cypriot state into a federal equal constituent state, or, if this is not possible, these two distinct entities will continue to take root,” he said.

“Can these two entities meet under the roof of the European Union? This will be decided by circumstance. We want to be a part of the international community.”

Criticising Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on his refusal to publicly endorse the prospect of a rotating presidency in a reunified Cyprus, Akinci said the Greek Cypriot leadership acknowledges behind closed doors that the rotating presidency will be accepted in the end, but tells its community the opposite.

“The Greek Cypriot side does not know what a federation is,” he said.

“It was never explained to them. It was also never explained to them what the Turkish Cypriots went through from 1963 to 1974. They are being told that history started in 1974, and the Greek Cypriot community keeps getting told what the Greek Cypriots went through. They suffered, too, this is true. But the Turkish Cypriots also suffered in this land. They need to be told these things.”

Referring to the presidential election in Cyprus, scheduled for February 2018, Akinci said it will be a “significant opportunity to decide what [the Greek Cypriots] want”.

“Do you agree for the two entities to meet under one roof, with political equality, or not? This is key. Everyone must make this crucial decision.”

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