Jul 31 2019

Turkish Cypriot PM says ghost town Varosha to reopen under Turkish control

Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar has said the abandoned tourist resort of Varosha on the divided island will be reopened under Turkish Cypriot administration.

“It is enough that it has been closed for 45 years… In our research of the national archives of Turkey, it was revealed that the place is entirely Ottoman land, that during British times our goods and property were pillaged due to some mistakes. So now we say that it should be reopened as a residential area under Turkish rule,’’ Tatar told EHA Medya news.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north of the island in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aiming to unite the island with Greece.

Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognised by Turkey, the northern third.

Vorasha was the leading tourist resort of the island before it was abandoned and sealed off in 1974.

Tatar’s statements follow those of Mustafa Akıncı, the president of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus, who in June said there had been an effort to “bypass the president” on the matter of Varosha.

Akıncı was not informed of the government’s plans to open up the abandoned tourist resort, Havadis Kıbrıs newspaper reported.

A 1984 UN resolution prohibits any attempt to resettle Varosha with anyone other than its former inhabitants, who abandoned the city when Turkish troops invaded.

“There is such an organisation called the Real Estate Commission in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised by Europe and includes foreign judges. They can consult it and former residents, they could be Greeks, Britons or Americans, can return to their property if they wish so,’’ Tatar said.