Turkish vice president visits Cyprus’ ghost town of Varosha

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay visited on Saturday a former sea resort in Cyprus which was abandoned and sealed after a Turkish invasion in 1974 following a Greek Cypriot coup, Anadolu Agency reported.

Oktay is attending a roundtable meeting in the fenced-off Varosha which is protected by a 1984 UN Security Council resolution stating that the empty town can only be resettled by its original inhabitants.

“Varosha is a territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” Oktay said in his speech in the meeting, referring to the breakaway state recognised only by Turkey. “It is legitimate for Turkish Cypriots to take steps on their own soil for their welfare and economy ,” Yeni Şafak daily quoted the vice president as saying. 

Oktay said defending the rights of Turkish Cypriots was Turkey’s only aim in Cyprus. 

Kudret Özersay, the Turkish-Cypriot foreign minister, announced last year plans to terminate the status of Varosha as a military area and set up an expert group to examine the ownership status on the basis of the Ottoman land registry archives. 

Before 1974, Varosha had a population of around 40,000, with 45 hotels, 60 apartment-hotels, 99 places of entertainment, 21 banks and 380 unfinished buildings. The value of land alone, without the existing hotels and buildings, is estimated by experts to be around $100 billion.