Senators call on Biden to press Erdogan on Cyprus issue

US President Joe Biden should put pressure on his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop his provocative actions in Cyprus, particularly with regard to the resort town of Varos. This was said in a statement by 14 U.S. senators.

Biden should impose sanctions on the Turkish government if the warnings go unheeded, the senators, including Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen, said.

“We urge you to work in tandem with the European Union to make clear in advance that any attempt by Turkey to support the relocation or opening of Varosha will be met with multilateral sanctions,” they said.

Erdogan is scheduled to visit the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus on July 20 to mark the 47th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of the Mediterranean island. He said he plans to make a “big announcement” during the visit.

The reopening of Varosha drew condemnation from Greece, the European Union and the United States. The resort was vacated and fenced off after the island split along ethnic lines after the 1974 Turkish invasion.

U.S. senators condemned Turkey’s efforts to open Varosha’s coastline, saying it violates several U.N. Security Council resolutions.

They said Biden should “use both bilateral and multilateral channels to pressure Turkey to stop provocations in Varosha and articulate the consequences of Turkey’s illegal actions.”

The senators said Turkey’s actions in Varosha are blocking progress in UN-sponsored Cyprus reunification talks. They said Turkey’s two-state proposal and military deployment also undermined prospects for reuniting the island under a UN- and EU-approved bizonal bicommunal federation.

“As further evidence of its unwillingness to achieve a lasting political settlement on the island, Turkey has established a drone base at Lefkoniko Airport in an attempt to expand its military presence in Turkey-occupied Cyprus,” the senators said.

Experts estimate that the land in Varosha, excluding existing hotels and buildings, is worth about $100 billion.