The five permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5), France, China, the UK, US and Russia, and other countries, have come out with what the government described on Wednesday as a “clear public reaction” by the international community over Turkey’s actions concerning Varosha.
The Security Council is due to meet in New York later on Wednesday to discuss the secretary-general’s reports on his Good Offices Mission and Unficyp’s mandate. Cyprus wants the same clear message to be given by the council to Ankara, the government said.
The UK, and the EU issued statements of concern on Tuesday night but the strongest came from Washington in the early hours of Wednesday. It made a clear call for a reversal of the move.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington would urge a strong response.
“The United States views Turkish Cypriot actions in Varosha, with the support of Turkey, as provocative, unacceptable, and incompatible with their past commitments to engage constructively in settlement talks,” Blinken said.
He said since October 2020 when Turkish Cypriots, with the support of Turkey, announced the opening of the Varosha beachfront and began taking actions to implement this decision, Turkish Cypriots and Turkey had ignored calls from the international community and the UN Security Council to reverse their unilateral steps on Varosha.
“We urge Turkish Cypriots and Turkey to reverse their decision announced today and all steps taken since October 2020,” Blinken said. “We’re pushing for a strong UNSC response,” he tweeted after he spoke to Christodoulides in the afternoon.
After the phone call, Christodoulides thanked Blinken for his “clear & unambiguous statement”.
His statements were reinforced by US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in Congress when she said the US “urge Turkey’s leader to address disagreements in the region through diplomacy, rather than through provocative actions or rhetoric”.
“We condemn yesterday’s announcement by Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar and Turkish President Erdogan to allow Turkish Cypriots to take control of parts of Varosha. This move is inconsistent with UN Security Council resolutions 550 and 789, which explicitly call for Varosha to be administered by the United Nations” she stressed.
Earlier Wednesday French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed support for Cyprus, saying he had discussed Varosha with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides and would be raising the topic at the UN. France currently holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency. According to the French statement, Paris “strongly regrets this unilateral action which constitutes a provocation and impedes the re-establishment of the necessary trust for the urgent resumption of negotiations”.
Russia’s statement, which refrained from using strong language, came after a phone call with Christodoulides. A carefully worded tweet by the Russian embassy on Wednesday said that “at the initiative of the Cypriot side”, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had spoken to Christodoulides and had expressed concern “over the dramatic complication of the situation around the closed district of Varosha” and its consequences for the prospects for a Cyprus settlement.
According to the tweet, the Russian side emphasised the commitment to strict implementation of UN Security Council resolutions that provide for the creation of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, through direct negotiations between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
It stressed “the need to refrain from any steps destabilising the situation and creating additional obstacles to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem” within a well-known international legal framework.
China, the remaining member of the Security Council, criticised any unilateral actions. The country’s ambassador in Nicosia, Liu Yantao said on Twitter he had conveyed a message from President Xi Jinping to President Nicos Anastasiades on Varosha.
“China maintains all parties should strictly abide by relevant #UN resolutions on #Varosha,” the tweet said. “Unilateral actions that could change the status quo of Varosha and raise tensions in the region must be avoided”
Apart from the P5, Israel also on Wednesday expressed its concern over Varosha.
A statement posted on Twitter by an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had reiterated Israel’s support and solidarity directly to Christodoulides.
“Israel is following with deep concern recent unilateral Turkish actions and statements regarding the status of Varosha,” the statement said.
London said late Tuesday it was “deeply concerned” and would be discussing this issue as a matter of urgency with other Security Council members, saying the move runs contrary to UN Security Council resolutions.
“The UK calls on all parties not to take any actions which undermine the Cyprus settlement process or increase tensions on the island,” a statement said.