Running out of options for Varosha


As the Turkish side strives to open up the fenced area of ​​Famagusta, the Republic appears to need to be reduced to its usual reactive role

Despite all the talk about “mobilizing” the international community against the Turkish side’s growing encroachment on Varosha, the government does not seem to have any real plan to escape what is arguably a checkmate on the part of the government. Ankara, analysts told the Sunday Mail.

In addition, Turkey’s maneuver by inviting Greek Cypriot refugees to claim their properties in Varosha via the Real Property Commission (IPC) and live there under the Turkish Cypriot administration has the advantage of dividing the Greek Cypriots on the question – music to the ears of foreign policy strategists. in Ankara.

When asked if the Cypriot government had a plan to deal with the escalating situation in Varosha, a former diplomat, who preferred not to be named, summed up: “A plan for what? Talk to God?

He added: “The government does not have a plan because it cannot have one, that simple. Everything that can be said about Varosha by the EU or the UN Security Council has been said.

“It’s like that.”

The source said there are only two paths for Cyprus – the EU and the UN Security Council. But these two avenues have been tried countless times, yielding no concrete results other than verbal and generic expressions of support for Cyprus and the need to uphold international law.

“In the real world, these institutions have nothing to do with. The EU has exhausted all means to put pressure on Turkey, and even that pressure has been timid, as the balance sheet shows. “

As for the UNSC, the former diplomat wonders what more he has to offer. Will they convene a special session for Cyprus on the question of Varosha? And now what? More verbiage? Would they even bother to convene a session?

Regarding President Nicos Anastasiades’ letter to US President Joe Biden to tease Turkey’s ear, so to speak, the source felt it would go nowhere.

“It is doubtful that Biden could even read this letter. The President of the United States has dozens and dozens of articles to flip through on his desk every day. Important issues, from Ukraine to nuclear weapons control, whatever you want. Anastasiades’ letter probably lands at the bottom of the pile.

“Here’s how it works: The US Ambassador to Nicosia will draft a statement regarding the US position on Varosha, the draft is sent to the State Department in Washington DC, then the State Department – or maybe the White House – issues statement. And that’s all.

“So Anastasiades and his Foreign Minister Christodoulides can explain how they pull the strings and so on, but in the end it equates to theater for national public consumption.”

The source pointed out that power politics is the name of the game, and right now Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan has all the cards in hand. If Erdogan, who is due to visit Varosha on July 20, feels confident enough to act in Varosha, he will. The Greek Cypriot side, as usual, is reduced to a reactive role.

“You asked what the Cypriot government’s plan is? In a way, they have one – it’s a PR management plan.

If the government can’t do anything except sit back and watch and invoke UNSC resolutions, what does that imply?

People protesting during Erdogan’s last visit in November

Reality takes over, says the source. It will be up to the individual – the refugees from Varosha – to act according to his conscience. Are they asking the IPC for restitution of property or compensation, or are they heeding government directives and waiting for a Cypriot settlement?

“I think a lot of them could use CPI. Maybe, say, five percent to begin with. Remember that there is a lot of frustration among the refugees, many of whom are giving up on a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t go to IPC – I’m saying reality will take its course, pragmatically.

As for Turkey, the source believes Ankara will play it by ear. He will assess the response of Greek Cypriot refugees to the offer to live under the Turkish Cypriot administration and, based on those returns, will take it from there.

“At the end of the day, resolutions, UN statements, or whatever, on the ground, Turkey controls Varosha,” the source said.

Just days ago, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said that to date, 344 people have filed property claims in Varosha through the IPC.

The IPC was established by Turkey in 2005 as a domestic remedy – ranging from restitution of property to compensation to exchange – for claims relating to Greek Cypriot properties in the north and was accepted in as such by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010.

The commission’s mandate expires on December 21 of this year. Some, like lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, warn that if the mandate is not renewed and the Greek Cypriot refugees do nothing by this deadline, the Turkish side could retort that the refugees have had 15 years to apply and did not do so, thus giving up their right to any remedy.

Hubert Faustmann, professor of history and political science at the University of Nicosia, agrees that Ankara holds the keys to the mansion, so to speak.

“Cyprus has the law on its side, but not the power And we are waiting for that of a small country. As for the government’s plan here, well, it’s the same “plan” as always – protesting in international forums. It didn’t work in the past, and it won’t work now either.

According to Faustmann, what is happening in Varosha is the normalization of the facts on the ground, the normalization of the score essentially.

“As usual, Turkey is extremely smart. On the one hand, the situation in Varosha is extremely offensive to the Greek Cypriots on the island, but on the other hand, it is not serious for the international community.

“Think about it: Turkey says the Greek Cypriots can return to Varosha if they wish. On the surface, how can you oppose this? In a twisted way, that makes sense. Of course, what they’re really doing is saying to the Greek Cypriots’ look, we’ve taken your properties, and now we’re giving them back, what generosity on our part, right? “

“But these ironic twists and turns are lost on diplomats and foreign power agents, most of whom do not know – or may not be interested – the details of the Cyprus issue.”

Additionally, if the refugees came to live in Varosha, it would serve to defuse the long-held Greek Cypriot argument that UN resolutions demand that the fenced area of ​​Famagusta be returned to the Greek Cypriot side or under Greek Cypriot administration. ‘UN.

“But if the Greeks go back, the Turkish side will show it and say ‘You see, they come here alone, they themselves don’t fear living under the Turkish Cypriot administration.’ And for the Cypriot government, that is his worst nightmare come true.

The analyst is also thinking about what would happen if Greek Cypriot refugees accepted his offer to Turkey.

“It depends on how they’re going to play it. Will the IPC offer restitution for Varosha’s properties or compensation? And what happens when a Greek Cypriot settles in Varosha? Obviously they would be subject to Turkish Cypriot law, pay taxes, the whole nine meters.

“In the meantime, the rest, the reluctant segment, will closely monitor the fate of those who return. If they find, for example, that returning Greek Cypriots are treated fairly, others could be encouraged to follow in their footsteps.

What could prompt the Greek Cypriot refugees to live in Varosha under the Turkish Cypriot administration?

A combination of factors, says Faustmann. Both for sentimental and monetary reasons – and the two are not mutually exclusive.

“Perhaps for those who are advanced in years, sentimentality plays a big role. For the younger generations, without emotional attachment to the North, it’s different.


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