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Protests in Cyprus against Turkey's opening of ghost-suburb's residential area

GREEK Cypriots have lodged a formal protest with the United Nations and the European Union after Turkey revealed that it would reopen a residential section of an abandoned military-controlled suburb.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s North Cyprus puppet state said that part of Varosha would come under civilian control and people would be able to reclaim properties.

Varosha, a military zone nobody has been allowed to enter, has been deserted since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 split the island – leaving high-rise hotels and residences empty.

The plan was announced as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Nicosia. He called it a “new era” for the region.

Varosha’s former residents denounced the move as a bid to take advantage of their desperation over the area’s future and to psychologically press them into selling off their properties.

Many Turkish Cypriots also condemned the move as undermining ongoing efforts at reconciliation between the two communities.

Calling the move a veiled bid to acquire more territory that could scuttle peace efforts, the Cypriot government said that the five permanent UN security council members would be informed about what President Nicos Anastasiades called a contravention of council resolutions prohibiting any change to the coastal area’s status and which call for the return of Varosha to its legal inhabitants.

Cyprus is represented in the European Union by an internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government. Only Turkey recognises the state it established in the north of the island.

France, which presides over the UN security council this month, criticised the move as a “provocation” today.

A spokesman for French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “France strongly regrets this unilateral move, upon which there had been no consultations, which constitutes a provocation and harms re-establishing the confidence needed to get back to urgent talks overreaching a fair and long-lasting solution to the Cypriot question.”

The EU, the United States, Britain and Greece also objected to the plan.

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