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Turkey faces uproar as it seeks change in Cyprus

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Turkey faced outrage from Western powers on Wednesday after calling for two states in Cyprus and deciding to reopen a compound emptied of Greek Cypriots, with the US saying it would drag its NATO ally to the Council UN Security Policy.

During a trip to divided northern Nicosia on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that half a century of UN efforts had failed and that there should be “two peoples and two states with equal status ”.

Victoria Nuland, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, expressed concern that Erdogan’s remarks would have a “chilling effect” on UN efforts for a solution in Cyprus.

“We believe that only a Cypriot-led process – bizonal, bicommunal – will bring peace and stability to Cyprus,” Nuland said at a Senate hearing.

Cyprus, a member of the European Union dominated by the Greek Cypriots, and the United Nations both seek a “bi-horizontal” federation of two regional administrations united in one country.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded it in response to a failed coup staged by the then military junta in Athens that aimed to unite the island with Greece.

Turkey alone recognizes the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Despite the lack of a solution, the island is largely at peace.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, an ally of Erdogan, also announced a new step in the opening of Varosha, once the first seaside resort on the Mediterranean island but from which the Greek Cypriot population fled with the 1974 invasion. .

Tatar said an initial 3.5% of Varosha, whose abandoned skyscrapers are under Turkish military control, would be removed from its military status.

A spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said he was “deeply concerned” by this decision and urged “all parties to refrain from any unilateral action that causes tensions”.

– Eventful history –

After issuing a firm statement on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and called Varosha’s decision “unacceptable and incompatible with the resolutions of the EU. UN”.

“We are asking for a strong response from the UNSC,” Blinken wrote on Twitter, referring to the UN Security Council.

Nuland said she and other U.S. officials had also been on the phone with their Turkish counterparts asking for the decision to be overturned.

President Joe Biden has a checkered history with Erdogan, whom he has described as an autocrat, but Turkey has also offered to help in a key area by securing Afghanistan’s main airport as US troops depart.

France, the current President of the Security Council, has declared that it “deeply regrets” Erdogan’s initiative, calling it a “provocation”.

Visiting Nicosia, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias accused Turkey of seeking “to extend its occupation of Cyprus and establish neo-Ottoman rule in the wider region of the eastern Mediterranean”.

“There is no room for improving Turkey’s relations with Greece and there is no room for improving Turkey’s relations with the European Union as long as Turkey continues to ‘act illegally on Cyprus,’ said Dendias.

Turkey has insisted that the Turkish Cypriot authorities are working to alleviate the grievances, including those of the owners.

He accused EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who also criticized the decision, of being “the spokesperson and advocate for the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece”.

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