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Media Watch 2003

19 September 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Andreas Hadjipapas
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 19 September 2003.
GOVERNMENT: No deal on Varosha

THE government yesterday refused any deal with Denktash on Varosha (Famagusta) and reaffirmed its demand that the town be handed over to the United Nations to enable the resettlement of its lawful inhabitants.

The Turkish Cypriot leader disclosed on Wednesday that his side was considering new moves and “openings”, including the opening of the fenced part of Varosha for settlement.

But he again insisted that the area remain under Turkish administration. His only “concession” was that the UN would also be given a say.

He did not give details and avoided announcing a date for his proposal.

Denktash’s move is seen as a new trick to gain international support after being squarely blamed for the collapse of the UN-brokered peace talks earlier this year.

Talking during one of his meetings he said: “Our proposal for opening Varosha for settlement is still valid, provided the rights of the Wakf religious foundations are protected. Varosha is part of our territory.

“But in order to alleviate the security concerns of the Greek Cypriots, we are thinking of recognising a say to the United Nations. However, these are issues upon which we are still working."

Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides noted that the Famagusta offer was nothing new. Denktash announced back on August 4 that he was going to take such action.

“We have not seen any such gesture or step so far,” the Spokesman pointed out.

The only addition to the original announcement was Denktash’s offer to allow the UN to have some control over the town, while insisting on keeping it under TC administration.

“This is not acceptable. What we insist on is that the town of Famagusta be handed over to the United Nations for the resettlement of its legitimate inhabitants, as called for by the UN resolutions and the high-
level agreements (of 1979),” the spokesman declared.

In its resolution 550 of May 1984, the Security Council stated that it considered any attempt to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as 'inadmissible' and called for the transfer of the area to the administration of the United Nations.

Varosha, a once-thriving tourist resort and home to some 60,000 Greek Cypriots, came under Turkish army control in August 1974. It now lies deserted, with its dozens of seaside hotels in decay. Billions of pounds will be required for its restoration.

Denktash claimed that the UN Security Council had taken its decision without knowing the existence of property allegedly belonging to the Wakf foundation.

“If the Greek Cypriot owners do not come, we must prevent the destruction of the buildings,” he added.
He alleged that “contacts were under way to lease some of the buildings” following applications by interested individuals.

“We want to act patiently and with cool head and settle this matter, protecting the rights of both the Wakf and the Greek Cypriot owners."

Speaking on another issue, Denktash dismissed as a “political caprice” the Greek Cypriot demand for a Gymnasium to be allowed to operate in the Karpass peninsula for children of enclaved people, so that they not have to move to the free areas, away from their families.

He said a Gymnasium for seven children was unthinkable.

“This would not happen anywhere in the world. It is nothing else but a political caprice."

Noting that Turkish Cypriots in the area had also asked for a Gymnasium he said his regime was examining this.

“If such a school is opened, teachers could be appointed to teach the Greek Cypriot children in the Greek language at the same school, Thus they will learn both Greek and Turkish and become friends with each other."

Chrysostomides pointed out that both the third Vienna accord and the UN resolutions demanded that the right to education be safeguarded.

Denktash’s remarks would be noted but at the same time one should take note of the “systematic ethnic cleansing” that was still going on in the Karpass area.

Recalling that there were thousands of Greek Cypriots living in the area before 1974, the spokesman said the fact only a small number of secondary school children were left was proof of this policy of ethnic cleansing and expulsion of the indigenous inhabitants of the Karpass by the Turkish occupiers and the Denktash regime."