Varosha ghost town will be ‘pearl of Cyprus’, Turkish vice president says

Varosha, a resort town in north Cyprus vacated and fenced off after the island split along ethnic lines in the 1970s, will become the “pearl” of Cyprus once again, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said.

“It is better that Varosha has children riding around town on their bikes than mice wandering around the ruins,” Oktay said in an interview with Turkish Cypriot broadcaster BRT on Wednesday.

Backed by Turkey, the self-styled Turkish Cypriot Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) re-opened the main beach at Varosha in October, prompting condemnation from Greece, the European Union and the United States.

Oktay characterised the town’s re-opening as “a gesture of goodwill from Turkey”.

Turkey, which keeps tens of thousands of troops in the KKTC, is rejecting a United Nations-backed federal solution to reunite Cyprus, divided since 1974, instead insisting on an agreement based on the existence of two sovereign states. Turkey is the only country to recognise the KKTC as a legitimate government.

A main street in Varosha - John Kennedy Avenue – has been renamed as Semih Sancar, the Cyprus Mail said in November. Sancar was the head of the Turkish military when Turkey invaded the island in July 1974 in response to a brief Greek Cypriot coup.