Protests as north prepares to welcome Erdogan to Varosha

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Crews are working full speed to complete works for the visit on Sunday of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Varosha, in occupied Famagusta, reports said on Thursday

Meanwhile, President Nicos Anastasiades received a delegation of the Famagusta municipality headed by mayor Simos Ioannou, to discuss Varosha developments.

The municipality has been obliged to call off Sunday’s planned protest because of coronavirus restrictions.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, trees and plants shipped from Turkey were being planted along the streets and where the picnic is expected to take place on Sunday.

A bicycle lane was also constructed while visitors will be able to rent bicycles to get around.

Erdogan is expected to arrive on Sunday for celebrations to mark the 37th anniversary of the north’s unilateral declaration of independence that include a parade in the northern part of Nicosia.

In the meantime, Anastasiades briefed the Famagusta municipality delegation on the government’s actions to stop Turkey’s illegal actions in Famagusta, with letters to the UN Secretary-General and his telephone conversations on the issue with foreign officials, most recently with the UK Foreign Secretary, European institutions, such as the EU High Representative, as well as the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy.

Anastasiades also told the delegation about other steps and actions that are underway on the part of the Cypriot government.

Also on Thursday, more than 60 parties, trade unions, groups and organisations from both sides of the divide issued a statement against the unilateral move to open Varosha in violation of Security Council resolutions.

The statement signed also by Akel, said that the fenced area of Varosha was “one of the symbols of our divided island” and such actions undermine not only the peace process and regional stability, but also the relations between the two communities.

“The festive nature of this initiative, which was built on the painful memories of the legal inhabitants of Varosha, hurts our conscience,” it said.

The signatories called for an end to the unilateral action and said that any initiatives should be taken only with the participation of the United Nations and the legal owners.

“Our priority in this region is to end the political impasse that has ruined our lives and to contribute to cooperation and peace, not only on the island, but also in the region,” they said.

The Turkish president’s expected arrival prompted protests in the north over Ankara’s interference in internal affairs.

Turkish Cypriot group Baraka said they would gather on Saturday outside the ‘presidential palace’ and would leave a picnic basket for Erdogan.

“We will send packing out of our country those who do not respect our will, the enemies of freedom and democracy,” Baraka said in a statement.

Another group, ‘Independence Road’ is organising a protest on Sunday afternoon with protesters marching to the Turkish embassy.

A massive protest organised by the Democracy and Will platform took place on Tuesday evening, also in Nicosia in the north, against Turkey’s intervention in Turkish Cypriot affairs.

Famagusta Municipality meanwhile said on Thursday that it was obliged to call off a planned protest against Erdogan’s visit at Dherynia checkpoint on Sunday after failing to secure a special permit for people to travel there from Limassol and Paphos which are both locked down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read also on Greek City Times:

Turkey begins preparations to reopen cypriot resort town illegally occupied since 1974

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.