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Our View: UN resolutions on Varosha are unlikely to deter Turkey


PRESIDENT Anastasiades expressed “absolute satisfaction” with the decision of the UN Security Council, which on Thursday “reaffirmed its determination to implement resolutions 550 and 789 which relate to the return of Varosha to its rightful owners and residents.” It does not take a lot for the president to be absolutely satisfied, then again the government with the help of the media had billed the discussion of Turkey’s plans to open the fenced area of Varosha at the UNSC as a key matter when it was treated by members as nothing of the sort.

All that happened was that the UNSC asked its president to make a statement, reaffirming the two UN resolutions and saying that “no action should be carried out in Varosha, not in accordance with these resolutions.” It was just a case of a few more UN words, which Cyprus governments, over the decades, had a tendency to spin as diplomatic victories, albeit with no practical value. Then again, the Anastasiades government had to be seen to be doing something after the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ announced it would open the fenced area of Famagusta and develop it.

All it could do was to go to the UNSC and request a reaffirmation of the resolutions that have been ignored with impunity, by Turkey for four decades. WillThursday’s announcement stop Turkish plans for the fenced area? No, so why had Anastasiades expressed absolute satisfaction? Surely the only thing that could give the president absolute satisfaction would be the return of the fenced area to its rightful owners and citizens and not some routine statement about UN resolutions that will never be implemented.

Cyprus’ permanent representative at the UN, Andreas Mavroyiannis, was more restrained than Anastasiades in his reaction, saying “I hope the reaffirmation is a sufficiently strong message.” Our diplomats deal a lot with messages, but could a seasoned Cyprus problem diplomat like Mavroyiannis actually believe Thursday’s reaffirmation would be a sufficiently strong message to Turkey which has been showing utter contempt for UN resolutions on Varosha?

The strong message that our absolutely satisfied president seems to miss, by accident or design, is that the return of Famagusta to the Greek Cypriots will never materialise if he does not reach some form of settlement deal – be it two states, confederation or loose federation – soon with the Turkish Cypriots. It is amazing that our government fails to see the very real possibility that the Turkish side will take over the fenced area of Varosha and we will be left with the UNSC resolutions 550 and 789 for consolation.


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