The Cyprus problem is at a critical juncture, says FM 

The Cyprus problem is at a critical juncture, said Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on Thursday and expressed hope that there will be positive developments that will lead to a resumption of the Cyprus talks with the arrival of the UNSG’s envoy for Cyprus to the island.

Speaking at the KYKEM district committee meeting on the latest developments on Cyprus and the Famagusta issue, the Foreign Minister said “I believe we are at a critical juncture bearing in mind the fait accompli that Turkey is attempting either on land or sea or with its involvement in the occupied areas.

He said that various Turkish Cypriot politicians are promoting a different form of a Cyprus settlement, that under no circumstances can be allowed by the Greek Cypriot side as it will lead to negative developments for the whole of the people of Cyprus.

The Foreign Minister recalled that President Nicos Anastasiades had a telephone conversation with UN Envoy Jane Holl Lute during which she said she will visit Cyprus in the third week of July, adding that she has already began discussions with the British government.

“We hope that there will be positive results as to how we proceed and create the condition to resume the negotiations”, the FM added.

Christodoulides said the negotiations will resume from the point where they were interrupted at the Crans Montana negotiaitons and if there is real political will, a solution can be found the soonest.

Referring to Turkey, he said it will solve the Cyprus issue only if it believes that its own interests and not those of the Turkish Cypriots are being secured.

The Turkish approach in relation to Cyprus’ EEZ is that it believes that around 70% of the Exclusive Economic Zone belongs to Turkey and questioned if Turkish Cypriots accept this.

As regards Famaguta, he reminded that although previous presidents made different efforts, during Joe Biden, the former US Vice President’s visit to Cyprus, “we came to an agreement in principle for experts to enter the fenced off area of Varosha and that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots would prepare a study for the town’s reconstruction.”

However, he added, this collapsed prior to Biden’s arrival because of Kudret Ozersay who was refusing to allow international or Greek Cypriot experts enter the town unless they were Turkish Cypriots. Ozersay now serves as so called Prime Minister of the illegal regime in the occupied areas.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Turkey issued in May a navigational telex, announcing its intention to start drilling off Cyprus until September 3. Since May 4, the Turkish drill ship “Fatih” is anchored in an area that falls within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus.

A second Turkish drill ship, “Yavuz”, arrived off the island’s northeastern coast on Monday.  The EU High Representative Federica Mogherini issued subsequently a statement, warning Turkey over its intended new drilling operation at the northeast of Cyprus. She recalled that Turkey`s continued actions have a serious negative impact across the range of EU-Turkey relations and that “as mandated by the European Council, the Commission and the EEAS are about to present options to the Council for appropriate measures.”

Varosha , the fenced – off part of the once thriving holiday resort of Famagusta, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, has been sealed since the 1974 Turkish invasion and according to the UN, the Turkish military is responsible for it. Repeated attempts to hand the area to UN administration and its Greek Cypriot legal inhabitants have so far failed due to the stance of the Turkish army.

UNSC resolution 550 (1984) ‘considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the United Nations’.

Efforts over the years for the legitimate citizens of Famagusta to return to the city have met with the refusal of the Turkish side, despite numerous decisions and resolutions by the UN, EU and other international institutions.

CNA