Erdoğan suggests ‘picnic’ in contested Cypriot town of Varosha

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested having a “picnic” in Varosha, a Cypriot resort town shuttered since its Greek inhabitants fled Turkish troops in 1974, during a press conference with newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Monday, Diken news website reported.

“We can have a picnic at Varosha,” Erdoğan said.

“We see it on screen, now we want to see it for ourselves,” he said, referring to the opening ceremony for a long strip of beach and the main street in Varosha to the public, which took place on Oct. 9 in defiance of international warnings that the move could hinder reunification attempts.

The resort town’s primarily Greek Cypriot population fled the resort town during the Turkish invasion, which followed an Athens-sponsored coup attempt to unite the island with Greece.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 550, approved in 1984, ruled that any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants was inadmissible. It also called for the transfer of the area to the administration of the United Nations.

Erdoğan dismissed talk of a federation with the Greek Cypriots as a “waste of time.” United Nations-sponsored talks to reunite the island have been based on such a model.

“I believe that a two-state solution should be brought to the table with a realistic approach,” he said.