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Cyprus unhappy over EU tardiness on Varosha

Cyprus unhappy over EU tardiness on Varosha
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell with Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides

The options paper on possible EU responses to Turkey’s actions in Varosha will be presented at the next EU Foreign Affairs Council in December, the EU foreign policy chief said on Monday.

“Member states once again have expressed strong solidarity with Cyprus, and now we have to convert this solidarity into concrete proposals to address the situation,” Josep Borrell told reporters.

Borrell said that during the discussion on Varosha, the council was briefed on Turkey’s unilateral move to change the status quo of Varosha, “which runs contrary to United Nations Security Council resolutions and put UN efforts towards a solution in Cyprus at risk”.

To this end, he said that EU foreign ministers agreed to initiate the process to prepare the document so it can be presented to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper), “as soon as the Coreper chair could decide to put it on the agenda”.

This will “prepare the ground” ahead of the next Foreign Affairs Council on December 13, “where this option paper, I assure you, will be presented,” Borrell said. “Work will start immediately through the Coreper meeting.”

Asked about the contents of the options paper, Borrell said it will present choices based on all available information and intelligence that has been gathered, adding the wait will not be long.

According to Cyprus News Agency’s diplomatic sources, the options paper will be made up of two sections, one outlining the situation in the fenced off area of Varosha and one setting out the options that the EU has to respond.

According to the same sources, during the discussion Borrell made extensive references to a report by the European Commission’s information gathering services, which records the situation in Varosha and occupied Famagusta in detail.

This document reportedly had to be completed before the process of preparing an options paper could begin.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides had expressed Cyprus’ displeasure over the delay in the process, and added that the EU should send a message to Turkey that its action have consequences.

Even though it cannot be ruled out that the document will be ready before December and be approved through a written procedure, this is currently a remote possibility.

Diplomatic sources say that the Cypriot side wants options to include political and legal actions rather than targeted sanctions. These could include limiting the progress of the positive agenda between Turkey and the EU or freezing funding from the European Investment Bank.

France, Greece, Spain, Malta and Slovenia supported the need for the options paper to move forward, sources say.

 

 

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