The EU’s foreign policy chief has criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his statements at the reopening of the city of Varosha in Cyprus.
Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said on Tuesday plans announced by Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar to rebuild the former resort, which has been abandoned since Ankara’s invasion of the island in 1974 and is considered a ghost town. , to open further, an “unacceptable unilateral decision”.
“The EU reiterates the need to avoid unilateral actions contrary to international law and renewed provocations, which could increase tensions on the island and jeopardize a return to talks on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue can bring,” Borrell said in a statement.
He added that the EU bloc would monitor how a closed-door consultation on Cyprus went on Wednesday at the UN Security Council and “decide on next steps accordingly”.
Erdoğan vowed that life in Varosha would begin again when he took an uncompromising stance on a visit to mark 47 years since the invasion that split the island of Cyprus.
Once the playground of celebrities and nicknamed a “jewel of the Mediterranean”, the eastern coastal town of Varosha was left as a gated ghost town, with luxury hotels left to the weeds. The invasion emptied the city of its Greek Cypriot inhabitants.
Turkish forces had taken the northern third of Cyprus in response to an aborted coup in Nicosia aimed at tying the country to Greece. The island has since been divided between the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Ankara.
Tatar, on the side of Erdoğan, announced the second phase of a plan to expand the reopening of Varosha.
The Turkish army restored public access to parts of Varosha beach last year and cleared a main road, Demokratias Avenue.
The internationally recognized government in Nicosia has emphasized that Varosha is “a red line not to be crossed”, and strongly condemned Erdoğan’s visit to Northern Cyprus last November.
Erdoğan in his speech on Tuesday urged a two-state solution for the island, an idea that was firmly rejected by the Republic of Cyprus and Brussels.
Borrell said in the statement: “The EU remains fully committed to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue based on a bizonal, bi-communal, federation with political equality.”