US senators ask Biden to pressure Turkey over 'Varosha provocations'

Fourteen U.S. senators have penned a letter to Biden, asking him to pressure Turkey to halt what they said “its provocations in Varosha.” They also demanded from Biden that he impose sanctions on Turkey if Erdoğan paves the way for the resettlement of Varosha during his upcoming visit to Northern Cyprus.

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Fourteen members of the U.S. Senate have penned an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden condemning Turkey over its actions in Cyprus, especially the abandoned coastal area of Varosha.

“We urge you to utilize both bilateral and multilateral channels to pressure Turkey to halt its provocations in Varosha and clearly articulate the consequences of its illegal actions,” they said in their July 14 letter.

“Turkey’s transgressions in Varosha come as it blocks progress in the United Nations’ 5+1 Cyprus reunification talks. The Turkish Cypriots’ proposal to establish two-states in Cyprus at the most recent round in Geneva—the first since negotiations broke down in 2017—undermined prospects to reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in accordance with UNSC Resolutions and long-standing policy,” the senators further said.

The letter comes ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Northern Cyprus on July 20 for the anniversary of Ankara’s 1974 invasion that led to the division of the island.

Erdoğan has recently said that he will send a strong message worldwide on July 20 during his visit.

Ankara backs the breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in the north and is the only country that does not recognize the Greek Cypriot government to the south.

Cyprus was split in two after a Turkish invasion prompted by a brief Greek-inspired coup in 1974.

In October 2020, Turkish Cyprus partially re-opened Varosha, prompting a heavy backlash from the European Union and United Nations. Earlier this week, Turkish Cypriot newspapers reported that Erdoğan might declare Varosha, currently a military area, as a civilian one, paving the way for the settlement of residents.

U.S. senators said that if Erdoğan goes forward with this move, the United States needs to impose sanctions on Turkey.

“We urge you to work in tandem with the EU to make clear, in advance, that any attempt by Turkey to support the resettlement or reopening of Varosha will be met by multilateral sanctions...Any attempt by President Erdogan and Turkey to resettle or reopen Varosha would represent a gross violation of those principles,” they said.