Nicosia - Cyprus is demanding the return of Famagusta as a first positive and practical step on the part of Turkey, ahead of a new round of negotiations beginning in the autumn.
Acting government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos, in written statement yesterday, said that the President and the government condemn the continued occupation by Turkey of a large part of Cyprus and urges Ankara to withdraw its forces.
“Today evokes grim memories as 39 years ago, Turkey went ahead with the second phase of its barbaric military invasion in Cyprus, violating all regulations of international law and the UN Charter, even if a ceasefire had been agreed, occupying with the use of weapons; Famagusta, Karpasia and Morphou.”
Papadopoulos added: “President Nicos Anastasiades and the government condemn the continued occupation of a large part of Cyprus and urges Turkey to immediately end the repercussions of the invasion and withdraw its troops from Cyprus, opening the way for a just, functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem”.
He said returning Famagusta to its legal inhabitants will be a first positive step which Turkey can practically show that it is ready to enter a new round of negotiations.
Diplomats expect a fresh round of peace talks to begin sometime in October to try and break the deadlock in the stalled UN peace process.
On August 14, thirty-nine years ago, Turkish armed forces launched their second offensive against Cyprus, violating every regulation of international law, including the UN Charter, despite the ceasefire that had been agreed.
Turkey invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, and continued its offensive on August 14 of the same year, occupying the island’s northern third.
The Turkish side continues to disregard international calls on Cyprus and Famagusta’s fenced off ‘ghost town’ - Varosha - remains deserted and abandoned to the elements.
Efforts over the years for Varosha to be return to its rightful owners have been snubbed by Turkey.
A new effort has been launched recently by President Anastasiades, who submitted a proposal for the return of Famagusta and the use of its port by the Turkish Cypriots for exports to EU countries.
The President believes this would help build confidence, proving that the two communities on the island can coexist peacefully in conditions of prosperity and peace.