The European Union on July 27 released a statement condemning a plan by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities to reopen a part of the fenced-town off Varosha for potential resettlement.
"The EU once again underlines the need to avoid unilateral actions in breach of international law and renewed provocations, which could raise tensions on the island and compromise the ongoing efforts to seek common ground between the parties towards a lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue in line with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions,” read the statement.
The statement warned that EU ministers “will consider actions” at their next meeting in case of non-reversal of Turkish authorities' plans which it said were against the UN Security Council Resolutions 550/84 and 789/92.
“Ministers will consider actions at their next meeting, in case of non-reversal of Turkey’s actions contrary to UN Security Council Resolutions 550/84 and 789/92, following the Statement of the Members of the European Council from 25 March 2021, which reaffirmed the determination of the EU, in case of renewed provocations and unilateral actions in breach of international law, to use the instruments and options at its disposal to defend its interests and those of its Member States, as well as to uphold regional stability,” it said.
Turkish Cypriots, backed by Ankara, said last week that that part of Varosha - now a military zone and an area touted in the past to be returned to rival Greek Cypriots - would come under civilian control, and be open for potential resettlement.
The move by the Turkish Cypriots triggered an angry reaction from Cyprus's internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government, and a chorus of disapproval from Western powers, led by the United States which called the move "unacceptable." Turkey has shrugged off the criticism.
On July 23, the United Nations Security Council condemned Turkish authorities for their move, calling for an immediate reversal of the decision.
"The Security Council calls for the immediate reversal of this course of action and the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020," the 15-member body said in its statement.
The east Mediterranean island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. Peace efforts have repeatedly failed.
An estimated 17,000 Greek Cypriot residents of Varosha fled the advance of Turkish troops in August 1974. It has remained empty ever since, sealed off with barbed wire and no-entry signs. U.N. resolutions have called for the area to be turned over to administration by the international body.
Under the terms of a 2004 U.N. reunification blueprint, Varosha was one of the areas which would have been returned to its inhabitants under Greek Cypriot administration. The plan, which detailed reunification under a complex power-sharing agreement, was rejected in a referendum by Greek Cypriots.