Turkey Warned of Possible Sanctions Over Varosha Reopening
European Union (EU) members Greece and Cyprus were threatening additional sanctions against Turkey over the latter’s unfavourable reopening of some parts of Varosha.
In a report by Al Jazeera on Thursday, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas was quoted as saying that Turkey needed to take a step back over fears that the reopening will threaten decades of efforts to attain political reunification on the bi-communal island.
It was also an insult to EU, which earlier held out against calls for sanctions against Turkey for its hydrocarbon exploration in the region.
“If it (Turkey) doesn’t, next week both Cyprus and Greece will table the matter for discussion by EU leaders at the October 16-17 European Council,” Petsas said.
But Turkey insisted that the move will not affect the rights of Greek Cypriot property owners since it was the sole island that was opening “for now.”
It can be learned that Turkish authorities reopened parts of Varosha which became a ghost town during the war in 1974, sparking controversy ahead of an election in the northern portion of Cyprus.
Varosha was evacuated when Turkey invaded Cyprus during the period in response to a Greece’s coup on the island.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis condemned the move, saying Turkey’s decision was “a clear violation of UN (United Nations) Security Council resolutions. Greece will support all relevant efforts of the Republic of Cyprus.”
The northern part of the island was occupied by Turkish Cypriots while the southern part was inhabited by Greek Cypriots.
The UN has earlier called for Varosha to be turned back to its former Greek Cypriot settlers or to UN’s peacekeeping group called United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
Last week, EU said it strongly condemned the violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus “which must stop,” without divulging whether it would slap sanctions against Turkey.
In a joint statement issued on Thursday, Mitsotakis and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called on Turkey to respect past UN Security Council resolutions.
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