The ruling coalition in the Republic of Northern Cyprus collapsed, amid controversy over the reopening of the coast of Varosha, which has been closed since 1974, and days before the country’s presidential elections.
The foreign minister of this entity, which only Turkey recognizes, has announced that Ozersay has resigned, in protest against the prime minister’s national decision to reopen Varosha.
The People’s Party to which Ozersai belongs, and the third largest party in the Turkish Cypriot parliament, withdrew from the ruling coalition, which deprives him of a majority, according to what Özersay announced late Tuesday.
On Tuesday, after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister, Ersin Tatar, announced the reopening of the city’s coast, on Thursday.
The decision was condemned by opponents of Tatars, as a move to mobilize its national base ahead of Sunday’s elections, and as an interference by Ankara in the affairs of the Turkish Cypriots.
It is unacceptable for Tatars to ignore the will of his coalition partner and the will of the people.
Tatars and Ozersai are competing with the outgoing “president” Mustafa Akinci in Sunday’s elections, which were scheduled for last April and postponed to this month, due to the emerging Corona virus crisis.
In turn, Akinci strongly criticized the declaration from Ankara, describing it as a disgrace to our democracy and an interference in our elections.
And the president, who is the only Turkish Cypriot official who enjoys the status of minority leader on the island at the international level, his relations with Ankara were sealed.
Last February, Turkey accused him of dishonesty, after describing the prospect of annexation by Ankara as terrible.
Akinci represents the Turkish Cypriot side in the currently stalled UN-sponsored talks on unifying the island.
The return of Varosha to its former Greek Cypriot population has always been the focus of all UN-backed proposals to reunify the island.
In the early seventies, Varosha coast was a destination for many famous people such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974, in response to a coup attempt to annex the island to Greece, emptied Varosha and the larger city of Magusta of its Greek Cypriot residents and property owners, and since then it has been under direct control. To the Turkish army that is forbidden to access it.
Turkey announced in September 2019 that it would restore life to Varosha, but the project was not achieved, while the Turkish announcement was considered a provocation in the southern part of the island, as Nicosia called either to return Varosha or to place it under the United Nations administration.
A spokesman for the Cypriot government, Kyriakos Kosios, described the decision as a pre-election campaign born in Ankara, on the eve of elections to choose a new Turkish Cypriot leader.
European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said that the European Union is extremely concerned about the matters announced Tuesday, and stressed the urgency of restoring confidence and not causing further divisions.
Akinji, the favorite to win Sunday’s election, seems likely to be decided in a second round between him and the Tatars.
Former Prime Minister Tovan Erhurman of the Turkish Republican Party, the second largest party in parliament, is also running alongside smaller parties and independents.
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