The UN Secretary General is concerned by the announcement made by Turkey on the opening on Thursday of the beach/coast line of Varosha – an abandoned resort in no-man’s land in divided Cyprus.
In a statement in New York on Wednesday, the UN chief also recalled that the position of the United Nations on Varosha remains unchanged and is guided by relevant Security Council resolutions.
The Secretary General also stressed the need to avoid any unilateral actions that could trigger tensions on the island and undermine the return to dialogue or the future success of talks.
He then called on all parties to engage in dialogue in order to resolve their differences, and reiterated his readiness to bring the parties together.
EU member Cyprus is divided since 1974 following an invasion by Turkey which still maintains troops in the northern third.
Ersin Tatar, self-declared premier of the breakaway ‘state’, made Tuesday’s announcement in Ankara alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who said he backed the decision on Varosha, sealed off within barbed wire for decades.
The North is only recognised as a state by Turkey, and sources in Cyprus said the plan was to open up about 1.5 km (1 mile) of beachfront to the public and not the approximately 6 square km (2.3 sq miles) inland.
This includes abandoned hotels and residences which its population of 39,000 people fled in 1974 during a Turkish invasion following a Greek inspired coup.
Varosha is a suburb of the larger city of Famagusta, which, in Greek – Ammochostos – means “buried in sand”. It has a pristine coastline of thick golden sand, most of it in the now out-of-bounds Varosha quarter.
Presently, about 200 metres (660 ft) of it is accessible to the public under the towering shadow of a hotel and a three-storey resort bombed during the war and left rotting since then. The rest of it is fenced off by rusting barbed wire which extends into the sea, guarded by Turkish soldiers.
Nicosia had already been in touch with the governments of the five permanent members of the Security Council in the hours leading up to the announcement, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Tatar had signalled steps to reopen Varosha in August, saying a revival of the area, which contains derelict hotels, churches and residences, would bring trade and tourism benefits.
‘Presidential elections’ are scheduled to be held in northern Cyprus on Sunday, with Tatar a candidate.
Varosha has been off limits along ceasefire lines to all but the Turkish military since 1974 and has stood as a bargaining chip in the decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.