US supports Cyprus talks, congratulates Akıncı
WASHINGTON / NICOSIA
AFP PhotoU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Turkish Cypriot President-elect Mustafa Akıncı for his victory in last week’s elections on April 30.
“[Kerry] wished him well as he assumes his role as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said during a daily briefing on April 30.
“[Kerry] reaffirmed U.S. support for the negotiation process conducted under the auspices of the U.N. and Special Advisor [Espen Barth] Eide to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. He also reiterated our willingness to assist the process in any way that the parties find useful,” she said.
As an independent candidate, Akıncı won the run-off presidential election last weekend, garnering 60 percent of the vote. Akıncı’s predecessor, Derviş Eroğlu, received 40 percent of the vote.
Akıncı was sworn in on April 30 as the fourth Turkish Cypriot president at a ceremony attended by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, former Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, deputies and military officials.
Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse quoted Akıncı as saying that an abandoned and wired-off “ghost town” on the divided island, once the playground of the rich and famous should be reopened as part of efforts to revive stalled peace talks.
Varosha, an eerie collection of derelict high-rise hotels, churches and residences, once drew luxury-seeking Hollywood stars like Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, but it has since become deserted, apart from occasional patrolling Turkish soldiers, after the 1974 Turkish military intervention that split the island
“We will ... seek an agreement whereby the closed area of Varosha is opened under U.N. auspices, while at the same time relieving the trade and tourism bottlenecks by opening the Famagusta port to direct trade and the Ercan Airport to direct flights,” Akıncı said in his inauguration speech.
“It is important that we open new crossings and that mobile phones be made to work on both sides,” he said in the speech, broadcast live on television.
Both sides have mooted reopening Varosha in the past.