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US condemns Turkey’s plans to reopen Varosha military zone in breakaway northern Cyprus

Moscow, Jul 21: The US Department of State has denounced Turkey’s plans to convert the Varosha quarter of the city of Famagusta in Cyprus, which is currently a military zone, to civilian use, saying it runs contrary to UN Security Council resolutions.

During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the island, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar announced on Tuesday plans to partially reopen the fenced-off town for further resettlement, adding the real estate in the area can be returned to owners. The decision sparked harsh criticism from the Greek Cypriots, who accused Ankara of organizing a land grab. The UK, in turn, said it would request an urgent discussion with the UN Security Council on the matter.

“The United States condemns the announcement by Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today regarding the transfer of parts of Varosha to Turkish Cypriot control. This move is clearly inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789, which explicitly call for Varosha to be administered by the United Nations,” the state department said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Washington views the actions of Turkey and Turkish Cypriot actions in Varosha as “provocative, unacceptable, and incompatible with their past commitments to engage constructively in settlement talks,” the press release said.

The state department also urged Turkish Cypriots and Turkey to reverse their decision and all steps taken since October 2020, when they first announced the opening of the Varosha coastal area.
“The United States is working with like-minded partners to refer this concerning situation to the UN Security Council and will urge a strong response,” the press release added.

The tourist quarter has been closed to the public and deserted since the 1974 war, which split the island, and became a military zone nobody has been allowed to enter. As such, Varosha is protected by a 1984 UN Security Council resolution. Ankara was allowed opening a small area for day visits last November.

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