A group of around 40 journalists accredited with the Turkish Cypriot administration on Thursday took part in a press visit to the fenced-off city of Varosha, guided by Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay, with the Famagusta municipality dubbing the move a ‘publicity stunt’.
“The Famagusta municipality is in constant contact with the competent state authorities and the United Nations, and is monitoring the issue closely and making use of every means at its disposal to avert new faits accomplis in the fenced-off area of Famagusta,” an announcement said.
This was the second group tour of the ghost town led by Ozersay, after a ‘cabinet’ decision in June called for a scientific inventory of Varosha by a committee of experts, which began earlier this month. The experts were led through the city by Ozersay in July.
Recent talk of the reopening of Varosha has also brought to the fore clashing claims to Varosha properties, with the heads of the Turkish Cypriot community backing the Turkish religious foundation Evkaf, which lays claim to the majority of Varosha properties, while Greek Cypriot officials assert that the rightful owners as per land registry records are the previous Greek Cypriot owners.
The Famagusta municipality called the developments regarding Varosha, which include the scientific inventory, the property claims by Evkaf, as well as several statements by Turkish Cypriot officials about the opening of the city under Turkish Cypriot administration, “unacceptable” and noted that they “do not contribute to the creation of the proper climate that will allow the resumption of settlement talks and the eventual solution of the problem.
“Time is not on our side and today’s status quo is paving the way for partition,” a municipal announcement said, adding that the only way for the peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem is the resumption of talks in line with the framework set by the UN Secretary General.
The main mouthpiece for reopening the city under Turkish Cypriot administration, which the Greek Cypriot side sees as a violation of UN resolutions, is ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar. On Wednesday he noted that “Yes, there are some UN resolutions, but 45 years later there is no chance for a solution agreement, and there is no reason why this area should remain closed”.
UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN.