France to escalate Cyprus issue to UN in row over ghost town

France announced its support for Cyprus on Wednesday, following the announcement that part of a ghost town in northern Cyprus would be opened for resettlement.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he discussed reopening a small part of the city of Vrosha, an abandoned resort in Turkish-backed northern Cyprus, with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides. Mr Le Drian also confirmed that his country would take the matter to the United Nations.

The reopening of Verosha, which was closed and abandoned entirely after the Turkish military invasion of the island on 20 July 1974 to counter the Greek-backed coup in Nicosia, has long been part of the Cyprus issue. has been an important point in the negotiations.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while visiting a separate country to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion, backed his country’s move, saying: “A new era will begin in Maras that will benefit all,” Using the Turkish name for Verosha.

The invasion divided the island along ethnic lines and created a small self-declared republic that was recognized only by Ankara in the north.

“France strongly regrets this unilateral step, on which there was no consultation, which constitutes a provocation and undermines the confidence necessary to return to urgent negotiations to reach a fair and long-term solution to the Cyprus question.” damages to be re-established,” said Mr. Le Drian’s spokesman.

The internationally recognized Greek Cyprus fears Turkey intended to suit the city, a move that was held up as “not crossing a red line”. Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades described the plans as “illegal and unacceptable”.

The European Union, Britain, the US and Greece also objected to Varosha’s plan on the east coast of the island.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on Tuesday he viewed plans to reopen the abandoned city as an “unacceptable unilateral decision”.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said criticism of the EU was “null and void” as it deviates from the realities on the ground and favors EU member Greece. “It is not possible for the EU to play any positive role in the resolution of the Cyprus issue,” it said.

Turkey’s president also revealed plans to build a new government complex, which includes a presidential palace and a parliament building – a move that will certainly help Turkey expand its influence on the island.

During his visit, Mr Erdogan hit another nerve by proposing a two-state solution to end the conflict – a proposal strongly rejected by the European Union. Earlier this month in Nicosia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would “never, ever” accept a two-state system.

Turkey’s Cyprus last year picked Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, Erdogan’s hand-picked candidate, who supports the two-state agreement, as the new president.

Turkish Cypriot authorities opened a small area in the city for day visits in November 2020. On Tuesday, Mr Tatar said his government plans to increase Verosha’s military status and allow former residents to claim compensation for their properties.

The Turkish military last year again accessed parts of the city’s coastline and reopened Democratius Avenue, a famous street.

Erdogan has also announced plans to build a drone airbase in an abandoned region in Turkish Cyprus to serve as an arm for Turkish influence in the eastern Mediterranean, where regional powers are locked in fierce competition over energy sources.


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