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Cyprus

Anastasiades sends second letter to Guterres, this time on Varosha

The government on Friday confirmed that President Nicos Anastasiades had sent another letter to the UN Secretary-General this week, this time concerning the latest developments on Varosha.

This was the second letter the president sent UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this month following the first one two weeks ago on Turkish provocations in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Following media reports that Anastasiades sent Guterres a second letter just this week, both Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides and Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou confirmed it concerned the announcement by the Turkish Cypriot side on an inventory on the properties in the closed-off town of Varosha and talk that it would open under Turkish Cypriot administration.

Anastasiades, according to Prodromou told Guterres that this move was part of Turkey’s Plan B announced after the collapse of the talks in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in 2017. Following a letter the president had sent Guterres at the time, the UN official had reassured Anastasiades in response that the UN position on Varosha was the same and is defined by the relevant UN resolutions, Prodromou said.

Prodromou said Anastasiades reiterated his proposal, which he had also submitted in writing to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for setting up a bicommunal technical committee for the redevelopment and resettlement of Varosha and seek EU funding for the committee’s operations and technical support by the UN to secure the demilitarisation of the town.

According to Christodoulides, Anastasiades’ proposal is the continuation of the proposals made by previous presidents, such as Tassos Papadopoulos and Demetris Christofias. He added that he also made “a special reference to the 21 confidence-building measures (CBMs) he gave to the Turkish Cypriot leader during their last meeting.” He said a copy of the letter has also been sent to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council informing them.

“The president expects any support possible from the UN for the activation of his proposal to the Turkish Cypriot leader on Famagusta as part of confidence building,” Prodromou said.

On claims by Turkish Cypriot religious foundation EVKAF that they own Varosha, Prodromou said that the legal rights of the residents and owners of Varosha are enshrined in the decisions of the UN Security Council.

He added that the Cypriot state has a land registry and “it is known who owns these properties.”

Akel said that Anastasiades ought to inform the parties on the content of both letters.

He accused the government of avoiding discussion on serious issues and especially on the Cyprus problem and preferring to leak documents to the media and then commenting on them, without informing the parties.

“This is the worst form of lack of transparency,” Akel spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said in a written announcement.

He said the issue of the relaunch of the talks was a critical one but Anastasiades had not handled it correctly so far.

Stefanou said Akel wants to know “how the president approached the issue of the relaunch of the talks in his letter.”

This was the second call by Akel to Anastasiades to disclose the content of his letters.

On Thursday the party, commenting on reports about the first letter, said that given that Anastasiades had from time to time raised various terms and conditions for the resumption of negotiations which basically annulled what the UN Secretary-General was asking as regards the resumption of talks, they would like to know exactly what he told Guterres on the matter.

Reports on Friday said Anastasiades was to brief political leaders on the latest developments on the Famagusta issue and the EEZ during separate meetings with each of them.

The president was due to meet later Friday with Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos who has organised a protest outside the presidential palace over Varosha.

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