Cyprus condemns Erdoğan over ‘provocative’ Varosha picnic

Cyprus on Saturday condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's plans for a picnic in a disputed and reopened beach resort to mark the anniversary of the divided island's breakaway northern state.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in a statement labelled the visit set to take place on Sunday to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as "provocation without precedent," Agence France-Presse reported.

Erdoğan is set to arrive in the TRNC on Sunday to attend celebrations in Varosha to mark the 37th anniversary of the breakaway republic. 

Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in 1974 in response a Greek Cypriot coup that sought unification with Greece.

The fenced-off former resort town of Varosha had been closed since the island’s division in 1974 and was partially opened again last month despite objections from the United Nations.

Such plans “simultaneously undermine the efforts of the UN secretary-general to call an informal five-party meeting" between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Athens, Ankara and former colonial power London,’’ Anastasiades said."These acts cause the outrage of all the people of Cyprus." 

Erdoğan's visit follows the election of Ankara-backed former Prime Minister Ersin Tatar as president in the TRNC last month.