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Foreign minister applies diplomatic pressure as EU repeats concerns over Varosha

ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ ΕΞΩΤΕΡΙΚΩΝ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟ ΕΞΩΤΕΡΙΚΩΝ ΥΠΟΘΕΣΕΩΝ
File photo: Nikos Christodoulides meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell said on Monday he hoped the bloc would not be forced to hold any extraordinary meetings in response to statements Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might make regarding Varosha when he visits the north next week.

Speaking after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels, where the EU foreign ministers discussed various issues, including Varosha, Borrell urged against “a negative spiral” in Cyprus.

“We are concerned about developments on the ground in Varosha,” he said. He recalled that the EU, through the European Commission and European Council presidents, has repeatedly reaffirmed the status of Varosha “and called for the Turkish authority, not to create a situation that could be against the United Nations decisions”.

He said the status of Varosha was set out in relevant UN Security Council resolutions. “And it’s important, as the two presidents have directly addressed to the higher authorities in Turkey, to refrain from provocative actions.”

Borrell said that the EU’s priority was to focus on seeing the restart of the Cyprus settlement talks. “We are working on trying to avoid any kind of trouble, trying to avoid getting trapped in a negative spiral again.

“Our wish is to work on the settlement of the Cyprus issue,” he said. “Let’s hope that we are going to have in the following days no reasons to call an extraordinary foreign affairs council.”

He also said that the EU ministers were “firmly united” in their rejection of a two-state solution.

As concerns escalate on what Erdogan might announce on Varosha, Nicosia has been mobilising diplomatically.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides took the opportunity while in Brussels for the FAC to hold meetings and brief several counterparts on the issue of Varosha.

On Monday morning Christodoulides hosted a working breakfast for his EU counterparts, prior to the FAC, with the participation of Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, as special guest.

It seems Nicosia is also hoping for some intervention from France which currently holds the Security Council presidency.

The Cyprus News Agency cited a diplomatic source saying that during Christodoulides’ meeting with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian on the margins of the FAC, “there was coordination in relation to actions that the French will take before July 20” and in case they don’t have the required effect, on how Nicosia will move within the EU and the UN.

Christodoulides also held a telephone conversation with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, whose country will hold the Security Council presidency next month. They discussed the Cyprus problem and the latest developments on Varosha, as well as the renewal of the Unficyp mandate.

Christodoulides also attended a meeting with Borrell, held by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who said they discussed Turkey’s provocative threats.

The foreign minister told state broadcaster CyBC earlier in the day that Nicosia’s efforts were focused on EU and UN levels. He did not conceal the government’s disappointment over the UN’s tone in references on Varosha in the latest reports on the Unficyp’s mandate renewal and the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres’ (UNSG) Good Offices mission.

Especially on the issue of Varosha, Christodoulides said there could have been sterner references, given Erdogan’s announcements. He said that the Security Council cannot ignore any announcements made by Erdogan on July 20.

Likewise, President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday said he would have liked more clarity from Guterres on the issue of Varosha in his latest report and pointed out that the UN needs to end “this diplomatic way of referring to unacceptable events, which, unfortunately, often allows this to be perceived as tolerance”.

Referring to Varosha in his report, Guterres said that during the reporting period, there were repeated instances where Turkish Cypriot and Turkish officials publicly stated their intention to develop Varosha in such a way that would, in their view, strengthen the economy in the north, including through attracting tourism.

He added that these statements and developments on the ground triggered objections from Greek Cypriots who cited violations of Security Council resolutions as well as the 9 October 2020 Security Council presidential statement on the issue.

He said developments in Varosha continue to be observed, reiterated his concern over developments in the fenced-off area of the town and recalled that the position of the United Nations remains unchanged.

 

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