Cyprus has appealed to the United Nations Security Council over the transfer of part of an abandoned coastal town on the ethnically-split island to Turkish Cypriot control, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Turkish Cypriot authorities and Turkey said on Tuesday that a small part of abandoned Varosha, left fenced in to rot for 47 years, would come under civilian control for potential resettlement.
“This is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and will have a negative impact on efforts under way to restart talks,” Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said after meeting his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias.
The Greek Cypriots, who represent the whole island of Cyprus internationally, fear a change to the area’s status displays a clear intent by the breakaway Turkish Cypriots and their backer Turkey to appropriate it.
The Turkish Cypriot move has triggered a chorus of disapproval from Western powers, led by the United States, which called the action “unacceptable” and “provocative.”
“Yesterday’s proclamations by the Turkish side are attempting to create a new fait accompli, to bury once and for all the prospect of reunifying Cyprus,” Greece’s Dendias said.
Varosha, an eerie collection of derelict high-rise hotels and residences in a military zone nobody has been allowed to enter, has been deserted since a 1974 war split the island along ethnic lines.
The Security Council was expected to discuss Cyprus on Wednesday afternoon, in a previously-scheduled meeting over its “good offices” mission on the island.
The United Nations has been trying unsuccessfully for decades to reunite the island, split in 1974 by a Turkish invasion after a Greek Cypriot coup engineered by the military then ruling Greece.