MEPs condemn Turkey’s activities in Varosha, Cyprus, and call for sanctions

MEPs condemn Turkey’s activities in Varosha, Cyprus, and call for sanctions

Turkey’s decision to “open” the sealed-off suburb of Varosha undermines prospects of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, warn MEPs.

In a resolution adopted by 631 votes in favour, 3 against and 59 abstentions, MEPs condemn Turkey’s illegal activities in the Varosha suburb of the city of Famagusta and warn that its partial “opening” weakens prospects of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, exacerbating divisions and entrenching the permanent partition of the island.

MEPs call on Turkey to transfer Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the temporary administration of the UN (in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 550 (1984)) and to refrain from any actions that alter the demographic balance on the island through a policy of illegal settlement.

A sustainable solution to reunify the island of Cyprus and its people can only be found through dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiations, MEPs stress. They call on the European Council to maintain its unified position on Turkey’s illegal actions and impose tough sanctions in response.

MEPS regret that the Turkish authorities have endorsed the two-state solution for Cyprus and reiterate their support for a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with a single international legal status. They also call on the EU to play a more active role in bringing the negotiations under UN auspices to a successful conclusion.

As Turkey distances itself more and more from European values and standards, EU-Turkey relations are at a historic low, warns Parliament. Its illegal and unilateral military actions in the Eastern Mediterranean infringe on the sovereignty of EU member states Greece and Cyprus. MEPs also point out Turkey’s direct support of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as well as its actions in Libya and Syria.

The Turkish army fenced off Varosha immediately after the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The Greek Cypriots who fled from Varosha were not allowed to return and with public entry prohibited, Varosha has effectively become a ghost town.

The resolution:

  1. Condemns Turkey’s illegal activities in Varosha, in particular its partial ‘opening’; emphasises that the creation of a new fait accompli undermines mutual trust and the prospects for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem, by negatively modifying the situation on the ground, exacerbating division and embedding the permanent partition of Cyprus; warns against any change of the status quo in Varosha in violation of the aforementioned UNSC resolutions;
  2. Urges the Government of Turkey to reverse that decision, and avoid any unilateral action that could raise further tensions on the island, in compliance with the recent call of the UNSC; calls on Turkey to withdraw its troops from Cyprus, to transfer the Varosha area to its lawful inhabitants under the temporary administration of the UN in accordance with UNSC Resolution 550 (1984), and to refrain from any actions altering the demographic balance on the island through a policy of illegal settlements; stresses the need for the EU acquis to be implemented across the entire island, following the solution of the Cyprus problem;
  3. Is firmly convinced that sustainable conflict resolution can only be found through dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiations in a spirit of good will and in line with international law and reaffirms its belief that a sustainable solution of the Cyprus problem would benefit every country in the region, primarily Cyprus, Greece and Turkey; calls on the European Council to maintain its unified position vis-à-vis unilateral and illegal actions by Turkey, to take action and impose tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions; recalls that further sanctions can only be avoided through dialogue, sincere cooperation and concrete progress on the ground;
  4. Underlines the UN Secretary-General’s call for the resumption of negotiations from where they were left off at Crans-Montana in 2017 and stresses that this should be done on the basis of the Common Declaration of the two leaders of 11 February 2014, the UN Secretary-General’s Six Points Framework of 30 June 2017 and the convergences achieved by the end of the conference; regrets that the highest Turkish authorities have endorsed the two-state solution and urges Turkey to commit concretely to the UN Secretary-General’s call;
  5. Reiterates its support for a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with a single international legal personality, single sovereignty and single citizenship, and with political equality between the two communities, as defined by the relevant UNSC resolutions, in accordance with international law and the EU acquis, and on the basis of respect for the principles on which the Union is founded;
  6. Expresses its concern that the illegal ‘opening’ of Varosha aims at changing the status of property ownership in the area, thereby undermining the prospects for the return of Varosha as prescribed by the relevant UNSC resolutions, or through the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem; urges Turkey to refrain from illegally settling Varosha with people other than its lawful inhabitants or calling for the lawful inhabitants to return to their properties under conditions of military occupation;
  7. Stresses that direct talks under the auspices of the UN on the agreed basis remain the only option for reaching a solution that reunites the island and its people, leading, inter alia, to the normalisation of relations between Cyprus and Turkey, improved prospects for the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone between Cyprus and Turkey, and the enhancement of EU-Turkey relations; urges that the negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General be relaunched on the agreed basis as soon as possible;
  8. Stands by both the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot communities in their quest for peace and stability and calls on the Commission to promptly implement the second Annual Action Programme for aid to the Turkish Cypriot community, aimed at supporting projects that foster reconciliation and improve infrastructure, environmental protection and economic development; calls, in particular, for continued and increased support for civil society in both the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot communities, both through the EU Aid Programme and more structurally as part of the new multiannual financial framework, in particular through the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme;
  9. Calls for the EU and its Member States to play a more active role in bringing negotiations under UN auspices to a successful conclusion, including by appointing a representative to the UN good offices mission, and to coordinate their efforts with the European Parliament to convince Turkey to reverse its illegal activities in Varosha;
  10. Underlines its support for the territorial integrity of Cyprus and calls for the EU Member States to oppose any attempts by third countries to recognise a state on the island of Cyprus other than the Republic of Cyprus;
  11. Deplores the statements by the President of Turkey during his visit to Varosha on 15 November 2020, which flagrantly revealed Ankara’s ‘road map’ for the illegal settlement of the sealed-off city and his support for the permanent partition of Cyprus;
  12. Calls on Turkey to refrain from proceeding with any unilateral activities, such as illegal exploratory drilling, which further violate the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, threaten to create new faits accomplis in violation of the Law of the Sea, undermine the resumption of substantial negotiations and the prospects for a comprehensive solution on the agreed basis, and are not conducive to good neighbourly relations in the region;
  13. Calls on the UN mission in Cyprus to step up efforts to monitor developments in Varosha;
  14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the President, Government and Parliament of Turkey./ibna