Piero Fassino, a member of the Italian Parliament and Famagusta Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is set to visit Cyprus soon, it was announced Tuesday, during the conference of the Political Affairs and Democracy Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Paris.

Cyprus MP Yiorgos Loukaides participated in the session.

An announcement by the House of Representatives says that Fassino briefed the Committee about his recent working visit to Ankara. He further said that he will make a second visit to Cyprus, in order to complete his Report, which he intends to submit for a vote to the Plenary of PACE, during the June 2024 Session.

During the session, the request for Kosovo’s accession to the Council of Europe was discussed in view of the Opinion that will soon be submitted by the Rapporteur Greek MP Dora Bakoyannis, before the Plenary of the Assembly.

In his statement, Loukaides said that while sufficient progress is not recorded in relation to the deficits in Kosovo, the request for membership in the Council of Europe cannot be accepted.

He spoke of the need for implementation of basic commitments and obligations on the part of the Kosovo authorities,  in relation to the rights of the significant Serbian minority and the rule of law in general.

Any relaxation of these criteria by the Council of Europe, he noted, would act as a disincentive for taking the necessary corrective measures.

Reiterating the principled position of Cyprus against the recognition of the independence of Kosovo, MP underlined that the attempt to legitimize the entity, is against international law and may set a dangerous precedent for the case of Cyprus.

He also emphasized that nationalism can never be a solution to the emerging issues and instead suggested the need to reach compromise and diplomatic solutions.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Varosha, the fenced off section of the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’.

UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN. UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) also urges that with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus be extended to include Varosha.

On October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha, following an announcement made in Ankara on October 6. Then, in July 2021, Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar, announced a partial lifting of the military status in Varosha.

In his latest UNFICYP report, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, reiterates his concern over any new developments in the fenced-off area of Varosha and the lack of response to the Security Council’s call for a reversal of the actions taken since the announcement of the partial reopening in October 2020. The has EU also expressed concern.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appointed Holguín as his personal envoy for Cyprus, to assume a Good Offices role on his behalf and search for common ground on the way forward in the Cyprus issue.

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