Turkey could face EU sanctions over occupation of Cyprus ‘ghost town’ Varosha

Former beach resort reopened earlier this year despite widespread condemnation

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EU foreign ministers have assessed measures – including sanctions – they could take in response to the reopening of a beach resort on the divided island of Cyprus.

On Monday, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said ministers in the bloc were evaluating options on the table after the Turkish Cypriot administration partially demilitarised Varosha and reopened it to tourists.

Much of the international community had condemned the move, which was explicitly backed by Ankara. The new UN head of mission for Cyrus, Colin Stewart, will host Mr Tatar and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades for fresh talks on Tuesday.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a brief Greece-backed coup triggered an invasion by Turkey and displaced thousands.

Under UN Security Resolutions, settlement in Varosha “by people other than its inhabitants” has been prohibited for decades.

Mr Borrell said the measures included the creation of “a specific sanctions regime” with “persons and entities with direct involvement” in the reopening of Varosha as its targets.

He emphasised that ministers would not yet take concrete action and said it was crucial that Turkey “refrains from any actions that would further deteriorate the situation on the ground”.

This year, the EU condemned “Turkey’s unilateral steps and the unacceptable announcements” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar to reopen the former resort.

A Turkish-Cypriot administration in the north, which is recognised only by Ankara, backs a two-state solution.

But most of the international community rejects that idea, instead offering its support for a federal Cyprus.

The Republic of Cyprus, in the south, is an EU member that is recognised by most of the international community.

Updated: December 13, 2021, 7:04 PM