European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said the EU member states are “deeply concerned” about the reopening of Maraş/Varosha and “will cause greater tensions and may complicate efforts” to restart negotiations.
“What is urgent now is to rebuild trust and not to create greater divisions,” Borrell said in a statement, adding that the EU is in contact with the UN and is keeping a close eye on the situation.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern over Turkey’s decision to give access to the beachfront in the town that has been fenced off since war divided the island in 1974.
He warned against “unilateral actions” that could heighten tensions and undermine chances for a resumption of peace talks.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the local and international press printed images of curious locals and members of the press visiting Maraş/Varosha for the first time in decades.
The decision to open the beach to the public was taken by Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, without reference to the Council of Ministers or the Foreign Secretary, Kudret Ozersay. The Prime Minister’s unilateral decision led to the minor coalition party HP to withdraw from government. Legally, the UBP majority should resign. However, given that there is a presidential election on Sunday, the timing would be very inconvenient, Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Yeniduzen’ reported. PM Tatar has not yet announced his resignation.
Tatar’s decision to open up the Maraş beachfront to the public was roundly condemned by President Mustafa Akinci, FM Kudret Ozersay, leader of the CTP Tufan Erhurman, who are all presidential candidates, and others, who accused Tatar of trying to curry favour with the voters as he is also in the running for president. They also said that the move would be damaging to any new negotiations to reunite the island. However Tatar and Turkey are pressing for two independent states in Cyprus.
There has also been widespread condemnation of the act from the international community, including the southern Cyprus Government, whose spokesman Kyriacos Kousios said it was a serious development.
“The change in the status quo, the violation of international law and the Security Council resolutions are an act that aggravates the climate for the continuation of the talks, especially after the statement of the UN Secretary-General that he intends to take initiative immediately after the completion of the procedures for the election of the new Turkish Cypriot leader,” Kousios said.
Yeniduzen, Guardian UK, Cyprus Mail