Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou on Thursday said Turkish Cypriot moves in the closed-off town of Varosha were a clear violation of UN resolutions after it emerged that experts had started an inventory of abandoned buildings.
Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay announced on Thursday morning he was entering Varosha with the group of experts.
The move follows a ‘cabinet’ decision last June on appointing a committee of experts to carry out a scientific inventory of Varosha. The decision aims at studying the town’s land registry records, the condition of its movable and immovable properties, identify properties of Islamic religious organisation Evkaf, and environmental risks. Evkaf lays claim to a large part of Varosha.
“We have some rough figures. We need to update them,” Ozersay told Turkish channel NTV.
He reportedly said works were being sped up for the opening of Varosha.
The group was to carry out its first inspection of the town, he said.
Before any moves are made, the experts will have to inspect the condition of properties that belonged to Greek Cypriots, adding that the important thing was that they would carry out this inventory without violating the property rights of individuals, but also of Evkaf.
Ozersay said they would look into the condition of the town’s infrastructure and of tourist establishments. “After this research is completed, we will decide how Varosha will be a part of social life,” he said.
He added that the closed-off town should not remain unutilised and a military area, while “the people who have rights to their properties there, have no connection to them.”
Depending on the results of the study, a decision will be made if this will take place gradually or on a one-off basis, although he said it seems unrealistic to open Varosha all at once.
Ozersay tweeted later that it was the first time in 45 years that such a large delegation had entered the fenced-off area to inspect it. He said on-the-spot checks would continue and the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ would pursue its study of Varosha in line with its decision to move ahead. He said he was determined to make a change in an area that had become “a symbol of the status quo”.
“A new impetus can be given both in Famagusta and Varosha and in Cyprus in general,” he said.
Meanwhile ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar reiterated that Varosha would open under Turkish Cypriot administration.
“This is a clear violation of UN resolutions,” Prodromou said.
He added that such actions, that are part of a number taking place recently, do not create the necessary climate for a relaunch of the talks.
While the UN Secretary-General asks and expects goodwill from both sides for a new effort, this kind of actions are a step to the opposite direction, he said.
“We hope the Turkish side, in its entirety, will finally act in such a way as to respond also to the call and the will of the President of the Republic for substantive talks,” he said.
Prodromou said that only substantive talks could prevent or stop the moves underway either by Turkey or the breakaway administration.