US condemns Erdogan, Tatar move to transfer Varosha to Turkish Cypriot rule

On July 21, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released an official statement regarding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to violate two UN Security Council Resolutions regarding the status of Varosha, an abandoned southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta.

Varosha was a bustling tourist quarter of Famagusta prior to Turkey’s 1974 invasion of the northern third of the island. The entire population of the quarter fled during the fighting. The Turkish Army seized control and fenced the area off to the outside world. Since then, only United Nations personnel and members of the Turkish Armed Forces have been allowed into Varosha.

“The United States condemns the announcement by Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today regarding the transfer of parts of Varosha to Turkish Cypriot control.  This move is clearly inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789, which explicitly call for Varosha to be administered by the United Nations.

Since October 2020, when Turkish Cypriots, with the support of Turkey, announced the opening of the Varosha beachfront and began taking actions to implement this decision, Turkish Cypriots and Turkey have ignored calls from the international community and the UN Security Council to reverse their unilateral steps on Varosha.  The United States views Turkish Cypriot actions in Varosha, with the support of Turkey, as provocative, unacceptable, and incompatible with their past commitments to engage constructively in settlement talks.  We urge Turkish Cypriots and Turkey to reverse their decision announced today and all steps taken since October 2020.

The United States is working with like-minded partners to refer this concerning situation to the UN Security Council and will urge a strong response.

We underscore the importance of avoiding provocative unilateral actions that increase tensions on the island and hinder efforts to resume Cyprus settlement talks in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.  We remain supportive of a Cypriot-led comprehensive settlement to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation to benefit all Cypriots and the wider region.” – Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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