The European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions discussed on Monday the report produced by the EP’s fact-finding mission to the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, in May last year, to be voted upon on November 21.
The report calls on the European Commission, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Council and all EU Member States “to table a new resolution to the UN Security Council calling for political and economic sanctions against Turkey for its acts of aggression in the eastern Mediterranean and for its non-compliance with Resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992) of the UN Security Council.”
Petitions Committee President and mission chief Cecilia Wikström, spoke of a very sensitive, emotional and informative mission, concluding that “Turkey completely ignores the resolutions of the European Parliament” and that the EU “must exacerbate pressure on Turkey.”
In particular, the President of the Committee reiterated the recommendations of the draft Commission report calling on the Commission, the High Representative and the Council to invite the UN Security Council to bring a new resolution on sanctions against Turkey’s aggressive behavior in the eastern Mediterranean.
Cecilia Wikström warned that “time is running out” for a solution as citizens tend to forget how it was when they lived all together and forget each others’ language”.
She also noted that we should not forget that we have “refugees in the centre of Europe” that “generations grow and” those who remember the united island before the intervention and the occupation pass over.” She also reminded that such a report had been submitted by the same Commission again, 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, petitioner, Loizos Afxentiou, has asked for sanctions against Turkey from the international community and thanked the President of the Commission who agrees with the same proposal.
He recalled the need for de facto EU solidarity of the EU Member States “in the issues that unite us”, on the basis of the Robert Schuman Declaration. He noted that “we are European refugees,” who “no longer live in tents” and who have been deprived of the fundamental right of property.
A European Commission representative who was present at the meeting stressed that the return of Varosha (fenced off area of Famagusta) is part of the solution to the Cyprus problem and made it clear that the Commission is ready to support the efforts of both communities and the UN and to help in possible confidence-building measures. He also noted that if the negotiation process starts again, it has to be Cypriot led and Cypriot owned
He referred to the roadside barracks in Dherynia, blaming the Turkish Cypriot side for delays and concluded by calling upon Turkey to contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Cypriot MEP Lefteris Christoforou noted that the issue could be resolved one day, but the Turkish side is doing nothing and is imposing “the law of the might, the law of the jungle”.
Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou noted that the European Parliament can do much more, 44 years after the Turkish invasion against Cyprus. He noted that there was more pressure in the first few years of the intervention and asked high-ranking EU officials to go to the city of Famagusta, in particular Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Khan.
For his part, Cypriot MEP Demetris Papadakis stressed that pressure must be exerted on Turkey especially now that it wishes to build bridges with the EU.
Cypriot MEP Costas Mavridis has linked the issue with the upcoming European elections and the power, or weakness self perception of the EU citizens.
Finally, Cypriot MEP Eleni Theocharous denounced members of the European Parliament who went to the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus and repeated, as she said, the Turkish arguments.
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 off 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 lawful 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 2017, 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.