Explainer: The battle between Turkey and Cyprus over the Varosha ghost city

Turkey and its ally the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are transferring forward with their plan to develop the city of Varosha. The UN-recognized Republic of Cyprus opposes the move, and the difficulty pertains to the dispute between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the island, in addition to disagreements Turkey has with its japanese Mediterranean neighbors. 

What is Varosha?

Varosha is a former resort and a part of town of Famagusta on the japanese a part of the island of Cyprus. It is situated throughout the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ territory, however near the border with the Republic of Cyprus. Varosha was a well-liked trip spot for the wealthy and well-known within the 1970s. 

The space grew to become a flash level within the division of Cyprus in 1974. A Greek army coup that 12 months following ethnic violence between ethnic Greeks and Turks led to a Turkish invasion of the northern a part of the island. As a consequence, tens of hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots had been expelled from or fled the northern and southern elements of the island. Turkey is the one nation on the planet that acknowledges Northern Cyprus. 

The Greek Cypriot group of Varosha fled throughout the Turkish invasion, after which the Turkish army fenced off the world. It has been largely deserted since. 

Two UN Security Council resolutions have addressed the difficulty. Resolution 550 in 1984 says the council “considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of that area to the administration of the United Nations.” This place was reaffirmed by Resolution 789 in 1992. 

What are Turkey and Northern Cyprus doing in Varosha now?

Turkey introduced in October its plans to open Varosha’s shoreline for public guests, selling condemnation from the United Nations. Since then, nearly 200,000 vacationers have visited the world, Northern Cyprus President Ersin Tatar advised reporters Tuesday, referring to Varosha by its Turkish-language title, Maras. 

The similar day, Tatar additionally introduced plans to transform a bit of Varosha from army to civilian management in order that Greek Cypriots might reclaim their properties. 

The challenge grew to become additional heated Tuesday as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the island and expressed assist for a two-state resolution to the battle, Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency reported. Erdogan has endorsed two separate Cypriot states prior to now. 

During his go to, Erdogan additionally pledged to respect property rights in Varosha, in response to Anadolu, in an additional reference to Greek Cypriots who as soon as lived within the city. 

International response

Many Mediterranean states, together with the Republic of Cyprus, condemned Erdogan and Tatar’s said plans for Varosha. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades known as the move “illegal and unacceptable.” The European Union’s high diplomat, Josep Borrell, additionally expressed condemnation, and stated the motion threatens peace talks on the island, Euronews reported Tuesday. 

In the Middle East, Israel’s Foreign Ministry “expressed deep concern” in a Tuesday tweet. Turkey is presently working to restore its broken relations with Israel. 

In a press release Tuesday, the Greek Foreign Ministry voiced assist for the “need to maintain the status of the fenced-off area of Varosha” in keeping with UN Security Council Resolutions. Greece and Turkey are also in a state of disagreement over Turkey’s offshore drilling activity in eastern Mediterranean waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. 

France’s Foreign Ministry also called Erdogan’s Varosha and two-state solution comments a “provocation” Wednesday. Turkey and France have been engaged on rapprochement following vocal disagreements between their heads of state last year over religious freedom issues. 

Tuesday’s events in Cyprus also elicited a strong reaction from Washington. During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on US Turkish policy on Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey accused Erdogan of undermining the Cypriot peace course of along with his journey. 

“Erdogan’s visit casts these efforts aside,” stated Menendez, who chairs the committee. “This violation of international law is unacceptable.” 

The undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Nuland, advised the senators she spoke with Turkish diplomats Wednesday concerning the plans for Varosha. 

“We are urging a reversal of this decision,” stated Nuland. 

Menendez additionally requested the diplomat to make clear the US place on a doable two-state resolution for Cyprus. Nuland stated the Biden administration “absolutely” opposes this. 

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