Reopening occupied Cypriot ghost town complicates island's reunification, says EU's Borrell

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By Christopher Pitchers  & Efi Koutsokosta
Reopening occupied Cypriot ghost town complicates island's reunification, says EU's Borrell

The EU's foreign affairs chief has said that moves to reopen the occupied-Cypriot ghost town of Varosha could seriously "complicate efforts" to reunify Cyprus.

Speaking on Tuesday, Josep Borrell, said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's moves to open the famous suburb of the coastal city of Famagusta, would not help the situation.

"The EU is deeply concerned about today’s announcements and developments related to Varosha. These will cause greater tensions and may complicate efforts for the resumption of Cyprus settlement talks," Borrell said in a statement.

"Full respect of relevant UN Security Council resolutions remains essential," he added.

The Turkish President made the announcement in Ankara on Tuesday alongside the Prime Minister of  of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, Ersin Tatars.

Varosha, which used to be a tourist hotspot, has been fenced off and abandoned since Turkey invaded northern Cyprus after a Greek-inspired coup in 1974.

It is protected by a 1984 United Nations Security Council decision stating that the empty town can only be resettled by its original residents.

The EU Commission Spokesperson, Peter Stano, told Euronews that the "ball is in [the] court of Turkey".

"[Turkey must] that they are also interested in this constructive dialogue and if we don't see any sincere efforts to engage on a positive level and if we see a continuation of unilateral actions and provocations then we will be ready to discuss other options such as restrictive options and not only the positive agenda that was put on the table as the primary interest of the EU to pursue with Turkey," Stano said.

Following last week's EU leaders' summit, Turkey was given until December to fully de-escalate tensions in the East Mediterranean.

But Erdogan's recent moves are being seen as a signal of his intentions over talks to reunify Cyprus, which are also being described as meddling in the island's internal affairs by Turkish-Cypriot MEP, Niyazi Kizilyurek.

"This by itself besides that it's not acceptable that Turkey interferes in the election campaign of Turkish-Cypriots and of course it's an unacceptable violation of the UN Resolution on Varosha. All this actually sums up in the politics of supporting a leader who doesn't want a federal settlement. By this Turkey actually gives us a hint about her intentions when the talks will begin," Kizilyurek told Euronews.

The Cypriot government has already made an appeal to the UN against the actions in Varosha and with the next EU leaders' summit beginning next week, things in the Mediterranean could be about to heat up again.