Occupied Famagusta has remained at the forefront of the news over the last few days through a series of joint bicommunal initiatives.
Yesterday, the Bicommunal Famagusta Initiative (BFI) - made up of prominent figures on both sides of the Green Line - criticised an isolated negative news report regarding Turkish Cypriot “police” presence at a Sunday mass held at Ayios Georgios Exorinos Church in the Walled City of Famagusta for the first time since 1956.
BFI’s announcement came after an unrelated joint statement by Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos and the head of the Turkish Cypriot “municipal administration” of occupied Famagusta Oktay Kayalp calling for the opening of the fenced-off ghost town of Varosha.
This followed an earlier announcement by the Famagusta Ecocity project about planned events from January aiming to push a vision of Famagusta as a centre for peace and sustainability.
In its announcement, BFI said: “News reports transmitted by only one Greek Cypriot TV channel, that Turkish Cypriot policemen were interfering with the Mass, are entirely untrue.”
It added: “The handful of Turkish Cypriot police who were on duty in the street outside, facilitated with traffic and parking arrangements for 11 buses and hundreds of private vehicles in the cramped streets of the Walled City.”
On Tuesday, Galanos and Kayalp made a joint statement giving their support to the immediate commencement of the process of returning the fenced off area of Varosha-Famagusta to its lawful owners and inhabitants, under the supervision and control of the UN, as provided in the relevant decisions of the UN.
The joint statement underlined that Famagusta port should be opened to international maritime traffic under the supervision of EU and.
“Such a development can only act as a confidence building measure, boosting efforts towards an overall comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem,” the statement said.
Adding it would also “create real conditions for economic development for the whole area and island-wide by significantly improving the current difficult conditions experienced by both communities”.
Galanos and Kayalp expressed hope that the leaders of the two communities “would agree to resume talks on the Cyprus issue without delay and at the same time proceed on taking all steps for opening the fenced off area and reuniting the whole of Famagusta”.
“We also make a strong recommendation to implement this approach in practice by bringing the local authorities and technical experts together to carry out studies on the future development, physical and socio-economic planning of Famagusta’s hinterland and create a Famagusta metropolis,” the two said.