Nicosia.- (GreekNewsOnline, CNA)
The Mayor and the members of the Municipal Council of Turkish occupied Famagusta are set to hold a protest at the Deryneia crossing point, over a round table meeting which takes place on Saturday in the fenced – off part of Famagusta, known as Varosha.
The Municipal Council held an extraordinary meeting to discuss steps to be taken. The round table meeting was organized by the Turkish Bar Association with the participation of Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay and Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül.
After the meeting the municipal council marched to the Deryneia crossing point to protest against the Turkish event.
In statements to CNA, Famagusta Mayor Simos Ioannou said that the council has sent a letter of protest to the UN Secretary General and the permanent members of the UN Security Council and that it is expecting for a meeting to be arranged with the UN SG’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar.
In the meantime, a protest was held this morning by Turkish Cypriots against the round table meeting. The protest was organised by the Turkish Cypriot Famagusta Initiative, the Turkish Cypriot Left Movement, the parties New Cyprus and United Cyprus, the trade union of Turkish Cypriot teachers KTÖS, the Basin-Sen press workers union and the trade union DEV-İŞ.
Famagusta belongs to its legal citizens and the government and the Famagusta Municipality are taking actions to prevent any exploitation of the fenced-off town by the Turkish side, Government Spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said on Friday.
Referring to the issue of Famagusta and Saturday’s event organised by Turkish Cypriot so-called foreign minister Kudret Ozersay, Koushos said the government of the Republic of Cyprus will take all necessary diplomatic and political measures to thwart any plans of the Turkish occupation forces aiming at exploiting Famagusta in any way.
Speaking at the Presidential Palace, Koushos pointed out that Famagusta belongs to its legal citizens, adding that the Famagusta Municipality is protesting the issue.
Koushos noted that the Famagusta Municipal Council will be holding an informal meeting at the Dherynia crossing point to express its opposition to any actions that are against the handing over of the town of Famagusta to its legal citizens. He added that resolutions would also be adopted.
The Spokesman said all these actions are being made alongside those of the government.
Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials met on Saturday in Varosha to discuss potentially re-opening the fenced-off area after 46 years, a move that Ankara said was a “historic” opportunity to bring tourism and economic benefits. The round-table discussion that took place at Varosha’s Sandy Beach hotel was also attended by Turkish vice president Fuat Oktay.
Oktay told attendees that it was a historic day and that it was neither legal nor politically or economically acceptable for this area of Famagusta, which he called a “heavenly coast”, to remain idle, Turkish Cypriot media reported. He said it was time to lift Varosha’s fenced-off status.
Oktay, who is in charge of Turkish Cypriot-related affairs within the Turkish government, said “this magnificent view” had been turned into a ghost town during half a century of seeking peace on the island, adding that Turkish Cypriots could not wait another half century.
According to Yeni Duzen, he said that the Turkish nation “brings peace wherever it goes”.
On the issue of property, he said Evkaf land could not be sold, while others could file property claims with the Immovable Property Commission. He was referring to the claims of Turkish Cypriot religious foundation Evkaf that it owns most of Varosha.
Participating in the round table discussion organised by the Turkish Union of Bar Associations, was Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar and ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay.
Fuat Oktay being driven through Varosha
In an interview with Turkish channel NTV while in Varosha, Oktay said that it was time for change so that people could enjoy the resort.
He said the round-table discussion was on the political and economic aspects and was part of the inventory on buildings and other infrastructure .
Oktay said they would look into the state of the approximately 8,650 buildings in Varosha.
“There are banks, workshops, car dealerships, markets. Time stopped. There are remarkable hotels, even after half a century,” he said.
He added that a study into the Ottoman archives would be completed soon since Varosha was Evkaf land prior to 1878, the year the island passed under British administration.
“No matter who lived here in the past, Varosha will be a place where everyone wins,” he said.
Moves to open up Varosha, first mooted last year by Ozersay, and universally condemned by Greek Cypriots have also been criticised by many Turkish Cypriots who took part in a protest earlier in the day outside Varosha.
Representatives of the Famagusta Initiative, the Leftist Movement, parties New Cyprus and United Cyprus, of the Turkish Cypriot teachers’ union KTOS, press union Basin-Sen and DEV-Is union marched towards the fenced-off town but were barred entry which led to some scuffles.
Head of KTOS, Burak Mavis, said Famagustans were not only those who speak Turkish and called for the return of Varosha to its rightful owners.