47 years ago, on July 20, 1974, the Turkish army invaded Cyprus and started dividing the island into two territories, which are still separate today. An anniversary celebrated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, traveling in the north of the island until Tuesday, July 20, when he will travel to Varosha, a district of the city of Famagusta deserted by its former Greek Cypriot inhabitants and occupied by thousands of military stuff.

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Recently, this ghost town has once again taken center stage. Under the direct control of the Turkish army, Varosha appeared impenetrable and abandoned. But, while the UN would like to see the city returned to its former inhabitants, Ersin Tatar, the new president of the Turkish entity, seems to have decided otherwise. On October 8, 2020, the authorities of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), supported by Ankara, decreed the reopening of its coastal area. A unilateral decision going against a negotiated solution between the two parts of the island and an appeasement of their relations. This Tuesday, President Erdogan should take advantage of his trip to continue in this direction and announce the reopening of new parts of the city.

For Erdogan, a two-state solution and nothing else

For the former inhabitants of Varosha, the arrival of Erdogan is far from the hoped-for signal of peace. Monday, July 19, in protest against the arrival of the Turkish president, about fifty Greek and Turkish Cypriots held hands in the streets of the city to form a human chain. ” They made the city uninhabitable. It’s easy for them to suggest that we come back, they know we’ll say no ”, confided to AFP Andreas Anastassiou, a former resident, before continuing: « we refuse to live under Turkish law ”.

In his first speech on Monday July 19, Erdogan promised to announce a “ good news “. While all observers scrutinized an unprecedented decision, the Turkish president finally spoke of the imminent opening of the construction and financing of new buildings to house the presidency. This measurement is “ essentially symbolic »According to Théotime Chabre, CNRS doctoral student and researcher at Noria Research. ” Turkey recalls in doing this that, whatever the international community may say, it recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a state ».

In addition to the wider reopening of the city, “ Erdogan could announce the transition from a military authority to a civilian authority in Varosha ”, continues Théotime Chabre. A unilateral decision which would remind once again that, for Turkey now, there is only a two-state solution, a principle against which the UN has always opposed.

Soon new talks

The Cypriot file is closely scrutinized by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. In Geneva, an informal meeting was held from April 27 to 29 between the two Cypres, Greece, Turkey and the British, under the auspices of the UN. The discussions, which focused mainly on the reunification of the island and the presence of Turkish troops, did not bring out common ground. It is difficult to achieve this when the positions of each part are poles apart from each other. “ We are going to Geneva firmly determined to resume negotiations to reunify Cyprus in the form of a bi-community and bi-zonal federation, in accordance with the (resolutions) de l’ON », Affirmed Nikos Khristodoulidis, head of diplomacy of the Republic of Cyprus, in the south of the island. While for his part, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, the “minister” of foreign affairs of the TRNC, hammered ” The solution (…) is an island, two separate states ».

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Antonio Guterres said he was determined “ to do everything in our power to move this dialogue forward and so that this dialogue, at some point, can lead to positive results “. He wishes to continue the talks ” in the near future, within two to three months ».


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