A delegation of the European Parliament`s Committee on Petitions will be visiting on Tuesday the `Glossa` beach bordering the fenced off city of Varosha in Famagusta, in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus. The Committee on Petitions will conduct a fact-finding visit to the occupied by Turkish troops city of Famagusta, Cyprus, on 7-8 May 2018. The purpose of the mission, according to the Committee, is to reassess the situation in Famagusta, and in particular Varosha, the sealed-off section of the city, in the context of the follow-up to petition 733/2004, 10 years after the Committee’s previous fact-finding visit to the island, which took place on 25-28 November 2007. The petition was submitted by Loizos Afxentiou on behalf of the Famagusta Refugee Movement.
Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou told journalists in Brussels that it is important that a significant number of Cypriots is also present at the area to be visited, thus demonstrating their will for the return of the city in accordance with UN resolutions, which detach the return of the city from the talks for a solution of the Cyprus problem,
Replying to a question, he said that the Committee does not want to promote a new resolution, noting that there is already a resolution (resolution 203 of 2007), which reaffirms the UN resolutions on Famagusta. He pointed out that they will ask the Council of Ministers to take all steps necessary so that Turkey implements the resolution.
He also described as dismissive the reply that the Committee has received from the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) as a response to their letter asking for UNFICYP to get in touch with the Turkish army so that the delegation can enter the fenced off city. Their reply, he said, was that they can not facilitate the visit, without any reference to the enclosed area, and as a result they will go to the nearby beach.
Hadjigeorgiou added they will request the release of funds so that Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and foreign experts can enter the fenced off city. “This is our intention, it does not mean it will be achieved,” he said, adding that what will be achieved, will take place following discussions when the Committee returns, based on the information they will have gathered.
The delegation will comprise Chairwoman Cecilia Wikstrom, five other members and three ex officio, including Cypriot MEPs Takis Hadjigeorgiou and Demetris Papadakis. The mission is the result of a petition, tabled in 2004 by Loizos Afxentiou, member of the Famagusta Refugees` Movement, which asks the return of the fenced off area of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants.
The delegation will have meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides, Mayor of Famagusta Alexis Galanos, UNSG`s Special Representative in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, Turkish Cypriot Initiative `Famagusta` as well as Loizos Afxentiou. On Tuesday the Mayor of Famagusta and the EP delegation will give a press conference.
The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state since 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Varosha, the fenced – off part of the once thriving holiday resort, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, has been sealed since the 1974 Turkish invasion and according to the UN the Turkish military is responsible for it. Repeated attempts to hand the area to UN administration and its Greek Cypriot legal inhabitants have so far failed due to the stance of the Turkish army.
UNSC resolution 550 (1984) ‘considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the United Nations’.
On July 20, 1974, claiming to act under article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee, the Turkish armed forces staged a full scale invasion against Cyprus, during which thousands of Greek Cypriots were killed or maimed. Till today the fate of hundreds of persons is not known and they are still missing. Over 36% of the Republic of Cyprus territory, representing 70% of the economic potential came under the occupation of the Turkish military. One third of the Greek Cypriots became refugees in their own country and are to this day prevented from returning to their homes by the Turkish occupation authorities.
The latest round of UN-peace talks commenced at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana on June 28, but in the early hours of July 7, it was announced that the Conference on Cyprus ended without an agreement. Talks held under the auspices of the UN aim at reuniting Cyprus under a federal roof.