UN Security Council condemns Turkish plans to reopen Varosha

The UN Security Council on July 23 condemned an announcement by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities to reopen a part of Varosha for potentially resettlement and called for an immediate reversal of the decision. Turkey rejected the council's statement, saying it was based on "groundless claims."

A view of abandoned buildings in Varosha.


The United Nations Security Council on July 23 condemned a plan by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders to partially reopen the abandoned resort of Varosha and called for an immediate reversal of the decision.

Turkish Cypriots, backed by Ankara, said earlier this week 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 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 a statement on July 23. 

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.

"The Security Council underscores the need to avoid any further unilateral actions not in accordance with its resolutions and that could raise tensions on the island and harm prospects for a settlement," the council said.

Cyprus had appealed to the Security Council on July 21 over the decision by Turkish Cypriot authorities.

Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the council's statement and statements by some countries, saying they were based on unfounded claims, inconsistent with the realities on Cyprus.

"These statements are based on Greek-Greek Cypriot black propaganda and groundless claims," the statement said.

It said Varosha was part of the territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Ankara, and that it had not been opened to settlement.

All TRNC decisions respect property rights and are in full compliance with international law, it added.

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.

"The Security Council stresses the importance of full respect and implementation of its resolutions, including the transfer of Varosha to U.N. administration," it said on July 23. 

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.