The final act?

Article by AKEL Political Bureau member Eleni Mavrou

Sunday 7 May 2023, “Haravgi” newspaper

The news of the sale of three hotels in Varosha by their Greek Cypriot owner has come as a shock to many people. Unjustifiably perhaps, given that Turkish warnings about the opening of Varosha already date back.

Since 2019 we have had the announcement by Kudret Ozersay, shortly after his secret dinner with Nicos Anastasiades, that the development of the enclosed city of Varosha would begin. This was followed by many Turkish statements and, above all, many decisions that are already being implemented on the ground.

Certain forces and circles may have tried to downplay these developments back then, talking about “communication games”, others may still resort to engaging in bravado, but the reality is indeed painful.

While the relevant Ministries of the Republic of Cyprus, were caught by surprise, they confined themselves to issuing statements that they are “investigating the allegations”, at the same time as the so-called “president” of the Turkish Cypriot “parliament”, Zorlu Torre, cynically replied: “If a citizen of the “trnc” (Note: the self-proclaimed illegal regime in the occupied areas that is recognised only by the occupying power Turkey) can make a sale, a Greek Cypriot, who has proved that the property belongs to him/her, can also make a sale. There were quite a few Turkish Cypriots from us too who sold their properties located in the south… And if the Greek Cypriot side shouts and protests, Varosha does not belong to it”.

The dominant subject in the public debate is the need to find ways to support the displaced people financially so that they are not forced to sell their properties in the occupied territories. This is debate that, unquestionably, is not simple. There are also political and economic aspects regarding the various measures that are being heard that should be of concern to everyone.

But is the issue purely an economic one?

Are we concerned about the possibility that, almost half a century later and experiencing the longest and most dangerous stagnation in the efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem, it is no longer believed that a struggle for the reunification of the island is taking place, particularly by the 1974 refugees, who realise that the nationalist narrative (‘Once more, as years and time go by, once more they shall be ours’) leaves no prospect of survival.

Once again it has been demonstrated that the unproductive and barren passage of time on the Cyprus problem leads to the imposition of numerous negative consequences on the ground and beyond. One such negative development is what we see happening in Famagusta.

In the face of the escalating Turkish aggression, the dangers for Varosha, the continuing occupation and division of our homeland, the Greek Cypriot side – especially the President of the Republic and the government – must send out a clear and convincing message that we are ready to continue the negotiations from the point where they had remained at Crans-Montana, on the basis of the Guterres Framework and, of course, preserving the convergences that have been recorded so far, without any appendixes and preconditions.

The communication games and empty sloganeering offer nothing of substance. Whether developments will be positive will of course also depend on Turkey’s intentions, but also on whether the Greek Cypriot side manages to convince Turkey of its commitment for a dialogue and the achievement of a solution.

And surely, the last thing that we need is pseudo-patriotic sloganeering and accusations of “betrayal of the homeland” to the refugees who were left to bear the burden of the occupation on their own, with many of them at the same time struggling to survive indeed at a time when they feel that section of the political leadership has long since written them off…

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