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Why Famagusta?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013  | 

Last week, we launched a petition supporting a new proposal that would facilitate the return of Famagusta, a town seized and occupied by invading Turkish forces since the summer of 1974.

(Sign the petition to give Famagusta back to its rightful inhabitants)

Since then, the response to the petition has been overwhelming. Over 1,600 people have signed the petition so far and the number keeps growing every hour.

One question that we’ve received is “why just Famagusta?” The answer is that the return of Famagusta is just the first step.

The number one priority for us and for many other organizations, activists and communities has been the complete reunification of the island. A bi-zonal, bi-communal federation is the only framework that will provide a lasting peace for all Cypriots.  That framework, of course, must include as a threshold matter the complete removal of all occupying troops from Cyprus. It’s been what we’ve been advocating for since day one.

So why shift to Famagusta now?

The reason we’re 39 years out from the invasion of Cyprus with no solution is that the peace process has been plagued by long periods of deadlocked inaction punctuated by occasional negotiations which have yielded little true, lasting progress on the issue. You’ll hear the return of Famagusta being referenced as a “confidence-building” measure. What is that?

It’s a term of art in international policy and what it boils down to is a measure aimed at restoring trust between negotiating parties, easing tensions and allowing for further negotiations. It’s a good faith maneuver.

Famagusta is largely a vacant city. Its main district, Varosha, has been frozen in time since Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974.  As the U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig has said:

“There is a logic to such steps to reignite a sense of optimism, of progress, a sense that a Cyprus solution would bring them very tangible benefits that relate to their lives, the logic that underpins an idea like the opening of Varosha can apply to other issues as well.”

Cypriot Foreign Minister Kasoulides has that “everyone understands that something is needed that will constitute a game changer.”

The return of Famagusta can be that gamechanger.

Add your voice in support of returning Famagusta to its rightful inhabitants:


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