President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not miss a chance to undermine any dialogue with his neighboring countries. Turkey “will never take a step back” from its goals in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean, Erdogan said on Thursday.
Speaking about the “Blue Motherland” and the occupied North of Cyprus, Erdogan said that “the issue of the Aegean and the Mediterranean is one that Turkey will never take a step back from. We have voiced loudly on all platforms that we will not accept any solution that disregards Turkey and the TRNC and that confines us to the shores, and we will continue to do so. We will resolutely continue to protect and defend our rights and interests at all times and under all circumstances.”
In a move that violates international law and United Nations resolutions, Erdogan ordered the opening of the beach of Varosha to the public.
The so-called ghost city of Varosha is the fenced off southern quarter of the city of Famagusta in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. The once top touristic destination has been under Turkish control since the invasion of 1974. Entry is forbidden to the public, access is only possible for the Turkish Armed Forces and UN teams.
The UN Security Council Resolution 550 states that it “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”.
The move triggered has been decried by Greece, Germany. Russia. EU and UN.
The EU’s diplomatic chief condemned the plan and described it as a “serious violation” of the U.N. ceasefire agreement and urged Turkey to stop this activity.
The U.N. Secretary-General expressed concern over Turkey’s decision
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas warned that “if Turkey does no cancel the opening, Greece and Cyprus will bring the case to the attention of the European Union and EU leaders.”
Greece urges Turkey to resume the process of exploratory talks, “but we will not allow provocations on the Cypriot issue to pass,” Petsas added.
Local media report of bulldozers, trucks and crews working in the area in preparation of the opening ceremony.
As Turkish officials are rushing to attend the ceremony, the “event” has been postponed for Thursday afternoon.
Erdogan’s comments and new provocative actions come as Athens and Ankara prepare to engage in exploratory talks.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Thursday had a brief meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, during which he conveyed Greece’s reaction to the reopening of the Varosha beachfront in Famagusta.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the GLOBSEC 2020 Forum in Bratislava.
The two ministers also agreed that a date should be given for the start of exploratory talks, media report citing diplomatic sources.