Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said that recent reports on the sale of hotels owned by Greek Cypriots in the fenced off area of Varosha, in the occupied part of Famagusta, were being investigated, noting that deeds involving the sale of properties in the occupied territories by Greek Cypriots to non-Greek Cypriots are not accepted and no title deeds are issued.

Spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Theodoros Gotsis, told CNA, after a meeting of Minister, Constantinos Kombos, with the Mayor and members of the Municipal Council of the Famagusta Municipality, that the meeting had been planned, prior to the reports, to discuss the wider issue of occupied Famagusta, and for an exchange of views as well as discussion for further actions after Kombos assumed his duties as Foreign Minister.

Regarding the issue that has arisen, Gotsis said, the Minister stressed that the issue of the sale of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied areas was “particularly serious” and that the competent authorities of the Republic are investigating allegations in a recent report in the Turkish Cypriot press on the sale of hotels in the fenced off area of Varosha.

The Spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, noted that documents regarding the sale of properties in the occupied territories, by Greek Cypriots to non-Greek Cypriots, “are not accepted and no relevant title deeds are issued”.

He also noted that the Republic of Cyprus expresses strong concern over this development as well as from Turkey’s recent actions for the settlement of the fenced off area of Varosha.

The application of the provisions of UN Resolutions – 550 of 1984 and 789 of 1992 – remains the only way out, he added. Gotsis also said, that, the Government, from day one since assuming power, has made clear in all directions its unwavering adherence to the framework of the Bizonal Bicommunal Federation solution, with political equality, as defined in the relevant Resolutions of the UN General Assembly, “and that is where the initiative of President Christodoulides aims, for the EU’s contribution, so that the resumption of the talks becomes possible the soonest possible”.

He noted that the UN Security Council considers attempts for the settlement of any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as unacceptable and requests the transfer of this area under the administration of the United Nations.

In his statements after the meeting with the Foreign Minister, Famagusta mayor, Simos Ioannou, said that Kombos mentioned to them some proposals as regards giving the people of Famagusta, especially, “hope” that a return to the city will be possible. The mayor noted that the first generation of refugees has died and the second was following suit, and it was important for the third generation to have a connection with Famagusta, because this bond weakens, and it was easier to take actions at no cost to them.

In the meantime, Interior Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, asked about the matter after a meeting with the Justice Minister, he said that, no sales deed was submitted to the Land Registry Department, nor was the Ministry’s approval requested for such a thing, while the Ministry has no legitimacy to give its approval for a private law act. As regards the case in question, he pointed out, that, what happened, was that the signatories’ signature was certified, not the content of the document.

Ioannou said that this was a development that causes concern, and that his Ministry was in contact with the Attorney General, “to see how we can handle such cases”.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Varosha, the fenced off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’.

The Turkish Cypriot leadership announced in July 2021 a partial lifting of the military status in Varosha. A few months earlier, on October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha, following an announcement made in Ankara on October 6. The UN Security Council called for the reversal of this course of action, while the UN Secretary General, in his latest report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, reiterated his concern over developments in the fenced-off area, noting that the position of the UN on Varosha remains unchanged. The EU also expressed grave concern.

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