"It is out of the question to include Greek Cypriots in the Maraş process," Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay said Sunday, expressing that after 45 years, the decisions of the United Nations has no impact but is instead considered at an advisory level.
On June 18, the TRNC decided after 45 years to open the ghost town Varosha (Maraş) near Famagusta (Gazimağosa) for settlement amid heightened tension in the Eastern Mediterranean. What was once a paradise of luxury cars, hotels, villas, superb beaches and a destination for the rich and famous has turned into a desolated place since 1974 when in the same year, Turkish military forces intervened on the island following a Greek-inspired coup. The coup followed decade-long interethnic violence and terrorism targeting Turkish Cypriots, who were forced to live in enclaves when Greek Cypriots unilaterally changed the constitution in 1963 and stripped the island's Turks of their political rights. The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure.
Maraş is located on the "Green Line," which is the present-day border between the two communities and was closed for settlement subsequent to a U.N. decision in 1974.
The city is protected by a 1984 U.N. Security Council resolution, stating that the empty town can only be resettled by its original inhabitants. The leader of the Greek Cypriot administration of southern Cyprus (GCASC) Nikos Anastasiadis and TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı will meet on Friday to discuss the process. Regarding this get-together, Özersay sharply expressed, "The government will proceed without prejudice of the rights in Maraş; however, in order to protect these rights, it is not necessary to hand over closed Maraş to the U.N." Last week, the TRNC announced that a team of experts will visit the town to make a list of movable and immovable properties in the city.
"We use our own legislation and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights as a basis," he continued, adding that the decisions of the U.N. Security Council are merely advisory.
The two parties' relations were already strained regarding Turkey's drilling and exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
"If you drill, we will also drill" was the main message of the TRNC regarding the matter, as it is a fundamental right of Turkish Cypriots, while also signaling that a compromise can be reached.
"If a committee is formed that will in real terms decide the issue of hydrocarbon effectively, then we also will come one step closer," Özersay said Sunday in a statement.
After the inventory analysis in Maraş, work will be carried out to give the area "civilian status" rather than its current "military" listing. For this purpose, a law draft will be prepared and put through parliament.
If the Greek and Turkish sides reach an agreement, Greek Cypriots will gain access to Varosha and Turkish ports and airports, and Turkish Cypriots will be able to engage in direct trade via the Port of Famagusta.