07/29/2021 Cyprus (International Christian Concern) – On the 47th anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Northern Cyprus, Turkish President Erdogan spent two days in the region, which resulted in several concerning announcements. The current authorities of Northern Cyprus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is recognized only by Turkey and is pursuing a two-state solution. The EU, US, and UN have repeatedly called for Turkey’s withdrawal from the region.
During his visit, Erdogan announced the partial reopening of Varosha, an abandoned town that has remained fenced off from Greek Cypriots since the 1974 invasion when 15,000 locals fled their homes. The town has remained inaccessible and in a military zone but was had coastal portions reopened last year for public use. Erdogan now seeks to establish a phase two to increase the civilian population. UN resolutions have already demanded the return of the land to Cyprus. Greek Cypriots were encouraged to not seek to return yet due to instability and concern for their treatment.
Varosha has historically been viewed as a key trading piece of Turkey’s peace process with Cyprus, with many assuming that a peace deal would include the transfer of the city back to Greek Cypriots. With this new reopening plan, the likelihood of such a peace deal remains unclear.
Erdogan also announced the Turkish construction of a presidential palace for Northern Cyprus President Ersin Tatar, a new parliament building, and a national garden.
Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus and continued attempts to neutralize any remaining Greek and Christian heritage incites concern among locals and international peacekeepers.
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