Saturday

13th Aug 2022

Erdoğan holds rainy picnic in Cypriot ghost-town

  • The ghost-town of Varosha is meant to stay empty until there is a peace deal, according to the UN Security Council (Photo: michael kirian)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has angered Cyprus and left-wing Turkish Cypriots by holding a picnic in the hot-button location of Varosha.

His visit, on Sunday (15 November), saw Turkish officials bring in shrubs and other decorations to the ghost-town, which has stood empty for 45 years, but was spoilt by heavy wind and rain, the AP news agency reported.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also called for a "two-state" solution (Photo: Flickr)

It also violated UN Security Council resolutions, which say Varosha ought to stay empty, until it is put under UN administration as part of a peace process.

Erdoğan said, in a speech in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus the same day, that his navy would continue to keep looking for oil and gas in Cypriot-claimed waters around the EU member state.

"Turkey's search for hydrocarbon resources will continue until a fair settlement is reached," he said.

He rubbished prospects of a UN-negotiated reunification of Cyprus, by calling for a two-state solution instead.

"A two-state solution must be discussed and negotiated on the basis of sovereign equality," he said.

And he indicated that Azerbaijan, a Turkish ally, might soon become the first country in the world, except Turkey itself, to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

The TRNC's president, Erst Tatar, was shortly going to visit Baku to "make the situation better", Erdoğan said.

Tatar, a nationalist who also wants two states, was recently elected in a TRNC vote goosed by Turkish financial donations to his supporters.

But Erdoğan's visit prompted a rare show of defiance by left-wing Turkish Cypriots, who back Tatar's rival, Mustafa Akıncı, and reunification.

"No picnic over pain", some of the protest banners said, The Guardian newspaper reported.

It also prompted anger in Cyprus and Greece, who had, anyway, been calling for EU sanctions on Turkey in response to its naval adventures in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey "does not respect at all international legality, European principles and values, and its obligations toward the European Union", Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiadis said on Sunday.

And the Varosha picnic was a "torpedo" against UN-mediated reunification talks, which had stalled in 2017, but which were hoped to resume later this year, Anastasiadis added.

It was "an unprecedented provocation", the Greek foreign ministry also said.

Erdoğan's trip came a few days ahead of EU leaders' talks, due Thursday, in what has become a pattern of Turkish pre-EU summit stunts.

But EU leaders earlier said they would hold off on sanctions until in-depth talks on Turkey relations in December.

The sanctions options include scrapping an EU-Turkey customs union, in what would be a kick in the teeth to an already-fragile Turkish economy.

They include an arms embargo, after Turkey recently bought high-tech drones from Nato and EU states and used them to help Azerbaijan defeat Armenia in a war in the South Caucasus.

And they include visa-bans and asset-freezes on Turkish officials and entities in charge of the oil-and-gas expeditions in Cypriot and Greek waters.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded, after a Greek-led coup, to protect ethnic Turks.

Varosha had been a majority-Greek town, called, by some, the "Jewel of the Mediterranean", but Turkish soldiers forced people out at gunpoint.

The eastern Mediterranean aside, Erdoğan has, in the past year or so, antagonised Europe by invading northern Syria, sending troops to Libya, and calling on the millions of refugees Turkey hosts to go to the EU.

He has also picked a fight with French president Emmanuel Macron, calling him mentally ill and ordering a boycott on French products, after Macron defended secularism in the wake of a jihadist murder in Paris.

Turkey to fine social media giants under new law

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube and TikTok were fined by Turkish authoirties for failing to appoint a representative able to address complaints, as required by a new law.

Agenda

MEPs prepare for another virtual plenary This WEEK

Ahead of the next European summit in mid-December, MEPs will address the EU's long-term budget and rule-of-law conditionality in another virtual plenary session. Discussions will also focus on consumer rights, pharmaceutical strategy and the pandemic.

Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey

The Swedish government has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen with Kurdish roots wanted for credit card fraud to Turkey, amid the backdrop of Turkey's Nato threat.

Opinion

Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy

The Belgian parliament's recent decision to ratify its prisoner-exchange treaty with Iran is a grave mistake, and one which exemplifies the many downfalls of dealing with Iran's human-rights abuses on a case-by-case basis.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us