Turkey rejects UN Security Council criticism over Cyprus

Turkey rejects UN Security Council criticism over Cyprus
Turkey has rejected UN Security Council condemnation of its plans to reopen the resort of Varosha in Cyprus and attempts to impose a two-state solution on the island.
3 min read
The resort of Varosha has been abandoned since 1974 [Getty]

Turkey rejected UN Security Council criticism on Friday over its push for a two-state solution in Cyprus and plans to reopen a coastal resort emptied of its Greek Cypriot residents.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to an abortive coup engineered by the then military junta in Athens that aimed to unite the island with Greece.

On a trip to the north of divided Nicosia on Tuesday marking the 47th anniversary of the invasion, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that a half-century of UN efforts had failed and that there should be "two peoples and two states with equal status."

Western powers including the United States and France expressed outrage and the UN Security Council issued a condemnation that Ankara swiftly rebuffed.

"The Security Council underscores the need to avoid any further unilateral actions not in accordance with its resolutions and that could raise tensions on the island and harm prospects for a settlement," the 15-member body said in a statement.

However the Turkish foreign ministry said that the condemnation was based on "unfounded claims".

"We reject the Presidential Statement made by the UN Security Council" on plans for Varosha to be partially reopened under Turkish Cypriot control, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

It also dismissed "the statements from various countries which are based on unfounded claims and inconsistent with the realities on the Island."

The security council statement obtained by AFP and which diplomats said would be formally adopted later in the day maintains a call for a "bizonal" federation of two regional administrations that are united as one nation.

The Turkish foreign ministry said decades of efforts failed to lead to a bizonal, bicommunal federal settlement "due to the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot administration".

They added that insisting on this model "now damages the credibility of the Council".

"A new negotiation process towards a just, lasting and sustainable settlement to the Cyprus issue could begin only by securing the equal sovereignty and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot people," the ministry said.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, an Erdogan ally, also announced Tuesday a new step in opening up Varosha, once the Mediterranean island's top resort but whose Greek Cypriot population fled with the 1974 invasion.

The Turkish foreign ministry said Varosha was part of the Turkish Cypriot territory and that all decisions made by Turkish Cypriot authorities "respect the property rights and are in full compliance with international law."

"Contrary to claims, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions are not violated. Moreover, the UN Security Council resolutions are not above property and sovereignty rights," it said.