Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said on Tuesday statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Varosha refute the north’s claims that the attempted change of status of the fenced area is for its legal owners to return to their properties.

Tatar said on Monday that the fenced area of Varosha completely belonged to Turkish religious foundations.

He said that the Turkish Cypriot side has called on anyone who has property in Varosha to apply to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) so that their properties can be returned.

Tatar said that so far more than 230,000 people visited the part of Varosha that opened to visitors around a year ago and that had it not been for the pandemic, this number would have been over a million.

Pelekanos said Tatar’s statements “refute the allegations that the attempted change of the status quo of the fenced area of Famagusta is aimed at implementing UN decisions and that the Greek Cypriot legal owners of the properties will allegedly return to their properties.”

He also said Tatar’s statement was “a resounding response to those who call on the people of Famagusta to appeal to the ‘compensation committee’ (IPC) for justice.”

Taking a swipe at President Nicos Anastasiades’ detractors, Pelekanos also said that Tatar’s position was a response to those who call on the president to make concessions that will allegedly highlight the responsibility born by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side.

“Our goal is not to have the blame put on someone, but to prevent faits accomplis,” Pelekanos said.

He said that the proposals submitted by Anastasiades from time to time are focused on lifting the impasse caused by the Turkish intransigence.

The government has on several occasions called on refugees from the fenced area of Varosha not to claim their properties through the IPC arguing it was a trap since this would put them at a disadvantage if Turkish Cypriot religious endowment foundation Evkaf, that alleges that most of the fenced area belongs to it, would claim that property.

Though the Turkish Cypriot community received £1.5m sterling paid by the British government in 1960 on the final settlement of all Evkaf claims, the foundation now argues that its properties were illegally detached from it during the British colonial period and transferred to the colonial government, the Greek Orthodox church and to various Greek Cypriot individuals.