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Neophytou: if UN initiative fails, Varosha will be lost in tsunami of developments

People Walk On A Beach Inside An Area Fenced Off By The Turkish Military Since 1974 In The Abandoned Coastal Area Of Varosha
People walk on a beach inside Varosha (Reuters)

Unless the new initiative by the UN Secretary-General yields results, a “tsunami” of developments is expected in the summer that could see Varosha being lost, Disy chief Averof Neophytou has warned.

The ruling party leader, who was hosted on Thursday evening at ‘Prokliseis’ a political TV show on state broadcaster CyBC, expressed the opinion that the clock was running down as too much time was spent on talks and that a solution ought to be found soon.

“For 47 whole years after the Turkish invasion, dozens of efforts by the UN for the solution of the Cyprus problem, things that have already been discussed, we still need a few more decades?” he asked, commenting on reactions that there was pressure for a solution the soonest.

Neophytou said he would like to see a formal summit on Cyprus after the informal five-party meeting to be convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in February in New York for substantive talks on a Cyprus solution.

“If we do not have a solution, we will all line up issuing statements and crying over Famagusta,” he warned. “Unfortunately, my estimate is that if Guterres’ initiative is not successful and if through an official summit, we do not find a solution to ensure the future of all Cypriots, we will have a summer tsunami [of developments] and we will lose Varosha.”

He said that by summer things will be clear. “If, God forbid, Famagusta is lost, any settlement reached after that in five, 10 years, any sort of solution will be without an inch of territorial adjustments,” Neophytou warned.

Last October, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Famagusta that had remained closed since 1974, to the wider public for visits. Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar have on many occasions declared that the goal was to gradually open all of the fenced area and invited refugees to return to their properties under Turkish Cypriot administration.

Neophytou said that Varosha was handed over to the Greek Cypriot side “on a plate” six times in the past but the offers were turned down.

“If we do not have serious developments on the Cyprus problem, we must be prepared for what Turkey says it will do,” he said.

On the informal five-party summit, Neophytou said he believes Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side will not go to New York and repeat what they have been declaring about a two-state solution. “They will put forward political equality and possibly raise the issue of sovereign equality, for which our side and I personally have the view that we cannot discuss two separate sovereignties in Cyprus.”

Though stating that a bizonal bicommunal federal solution cannot be achieved without political equality as is mentioned in all UN decisions, Neophytou said Turkish Cypriots cannot expect that they can achieve a solution by securing political equality but at the same time for Turkish occupation troops and the guarantees system of 1960 to remain.

Neophytou said he agreed with Anastasiades’ position on a decentralised federation giving more powers to the constituent states. “I believe that with this approach, a solution could be found on political equality.”

“Rightly so the president said we ought to create a functional state and that if for every issue a positive vote was necessary from both communities, most probably problems would arise,” he said.

He argued that both communities are used to having separate administrations, since 1964.

“We must ensure to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots that after the solution to reunite our country, the people’s everyday lives will not change,” he said. He added that all powers that have to do with day-to-day issues, in both communities, could be given to the administratively autonomous entities and leave to the central government only those powers that ensure the “single sovereignty, single international legal personality, single citizenship, single exclusive economic zone, single currency, single flight information region (FIR).”

Commenting on rumours and claims that Anastasiades has said on several occasions he favoured a two-state solution over a federal solution, he said the president never spoke to him about any other form of solution other than the agreed framework.

“There is only one Cyprus, not plan A and plan B. There is one Cyprus, and a single struggle for the reunification of our divided country,” he added. He said he agreed with Anastasiades’ “bold initiatives” on the Cyprus problem, including his latest proposals for confidence-building measures.

Unless there are bold political decisions, history will record a homeland lost,’ Neophytou warned.

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