Turkey’s letter to the UN claiming among other things that Greek Cypriots carried out armed ethnic cleansing against Turkish Cypriots between 1963 and 1974 is yet another unacceptable and baseless act aimed at creating distractions, even justifying the island’s occupation, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Saturday.
He said the letter would not go unanswered.
Speaking to members of the press at the Presidential Palace, Prodromou said the issue is being handled by the foreign affairs ministry.
“We are talking about yet another unacceptable and groundless action by Turkey in its attempt to create distractions and a climate of tension, or even justify the occupation of Cyprus,” Prodromou said.
He was referring to a letter sent to the President of the General Assembly earlier in the month by Turkey’s UN Permanent Representative Feridun Sinirlioglu protesting over the statement by the Prime Minister of Greece during the general debate of the 74th session of the General Assembly. The letter was released as an official document on Friday.
“We stress the need to set the record straight,” the Turkish diplomat said in his letter arguing that “the Cyprus dispute is not an issue of “invasion” or “occupation”, but an issue of the renewal of a partnership between the co-owners of the island, which was destroyed by the Greek Cypriot side in 1963.”
He said the division on the island began in 1963 when the Greek Cypriots expelled Turkish Cypriots from the partnership state organs and institutions, as well as from their homes, in violation of the treaties of 1960 and all human rights norms.
“From 1963 to 1974, the Greek Cypriots conducted an armed ethnic cleansing campaign against Turkish Cypriots, who had to live in enclaves under siege corresponding to 3 per cent of the surface of the island,” he said.
When this culminated in a coup d’état in 1974, aimed at annexing the island to Greece, Turkey was left with no other option but to exercise its rights emanating from the treaties of 1960, within the framework of its rights and obligations as a guarantor power, the letter said.
“Since then, Turkish forces have been the only factor preventing the repetition of earlier tragedies,” he said.
On the issue of Varosha, he said Turkey was “fully cognizant” of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
He added that ongoing scientific inventory work is being carried out by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to ascertain and study the condition of movable and immovable properties in the area, as well as the environmental risks.
“Any future steps in the fenced area of Maraş (Varosha) will be completely in line with international law, while protecting and respecting the rights of former inhabitants of the town,” he said.
He added that it was noteworthy that former Greek Cypriot inhabitants of Varosha have expressed their support for this initiative, “as this will eventually enable them to go back to their properties.”