PARIS/ISTANBUL, July 21 (Reuters) – France on Wednesday criticized as a “provocation” a move by Turkish Cypriot authorities to partially reopen an abandoned city in Cyprus for possible resettlement, in the latest criticism from the West that Ankara has rejected.
Turkish Cypriots said on Tuesday that part of Varosha would come under civilian control and people could reclaim property – much to the anger of Greek Cypriots who accused their Turkish rivals of secretly orchestrating land grabs. read more
Varosha, an eerie collection of run-down high-rise hotels and residences in a military zone no one is allowed to enter, has been abandoned since a 1974 war divided the island.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed the matter with his Cypriot counterpart on Tuesday and will raise the issue with the United Nations, a spokesman for Le Drian’s ministry said.
Cyprus is represented in the European Union by an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government. France will chair the UN Security Council this month.
“France deeply regrets this unilateral step, which has not been discussed, which constitutes a provocation and damages the restoration of the confidence needed to return to urgent talks on reaching a fair and lasting solution for the Cypriot matter,” Le Drian’s spokesman said.
The EU, the United States, Britain and Greece also objected to the plan unveiled on Tuesday when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited Nicosia. He called it a “new era” for Varosha, on the east coast of the island.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the EU’s criticism was “zero and null” because it is unrelated to the reality on the ground and favors Greece, an EU member. “It is not possible for the EU to play a positive role in reaching a settlement on the Cyprus issue,” it said.
Peace efforts have repeatedly failed on the ethnically divided island. A new Turkish Cypriot leadership, backed by Turkey, says a peace deal between two sovereign states is the only viable option.
Greek Cypriots reject a two-state deal for the island that would grant sovereign status to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state that only recognizes Ankara.
Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris and Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Andrew Heavens and Catherine Evans
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