UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Cyprus and Head of UNFICYP Colin Stewart briefed the Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the issue of Famagusta, Italian MP, Piero Fassino, on peacebuilding efforts in Cyprus, on Tuesday afternoon during a tete-a-tete meeting.

According to a post by the United Nations in Cyprus on Platform «X», Stewart welcomed Fassino to the UN Protected Area. “During his visit, (Fassino) was briefed about the UN peacebuilding efforts on the island,” it added.

In addition, UNFICYP spokesman Aleem Siddique told CNA that Stewart briefed Fassino on the role of the UN in Cyprus, the work of the peacekeeping force, which he said contributes to peace-building efforts across the island. Siddique added that peacebuilding efforts were also discussed but not the progress of the negotiations. “That is the responsibility of the personal envoy,” he said.

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’.

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 EU has also expressed concern.

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