Turkey Plans to Make Cyprus Ghost Town Varosha Tourist Lure

FILE - In this Monday, May 5, 2003 file photo deserted hotels in an area used by the Turkish military are seen through a wire fence in the Turkish-occupied area in the abandoned coastal city of Varosha, in southeast of the island of Cyprus(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, file)

Turkey plans to help Turkish-Cypriots reopen the abandoned town of Varosha, a once-famous celebrity-filled seaside resort, that was shut down after the unlawful 1974 invasion that saw Turkey occupy the northern third of the island.

Officials from Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side took an inspection tour there on Aug. 23, said Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News, the visit coming almost a month after Turkish-Cypriot  officials, led by its self-declared foreign minister Kudret Ozersay, visited the ghost town.

This time the ante was upped when Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy visited the region to have an air and ground inspection accompanied by the occupied territory’s self-proclaimed tourism chief, Ünal Üstel.

Until now only the Turkish army was allowed in but the Turkish-Cypriot side said on June 18 it would begin allowing tourists to visit the empty, eerie town where 1974 cars are still in showrooms and everything is as it as 45 years earlier.

Ersoy said a project to be prepared by the occupiers will be submitted to Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, which is ready to provide the necessary technical and financial support after an ownership inventory work is completed.

The town was abandoned after the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 550 on May 11,1984, which barred the resettlement of the town but Turkey, which has gotten away with defying the UN before, is doing so again without consequences.

It wasn’t indicated how it would be possible to make the town safe for visits as the infrastructure has crumbled and deteriorated from lack of maintenance and it’s not known if buildings are safe or the condition of water supplies and other utilities.

Earlier in July, Cyprus’ government denounced stepped-up plans by Turkey to reopen the fenced-off abandoned Varosha neighborhood in the city of Famagusta, which Greece and Cypriots call Ammochostos.

Ozersay led an entourage to inventory  decaying residential buildings, hotels, and infrastructure as part of a land registry study to determine ownership of properties by Greek-Cypriots, and the Muslim community trust, the EVKAF, which claims substantial holdings, The Irish Times said.


Ozersay said the aim was to see if the can be be opened again – under Turkish control – and that it should not remain abandoned and  empty, he said, “while people who have rights to their properties there have no connection,” the paper reported.

Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said the visit violated UN Security Council resolutions and jeopardize any hope of resuming reunification talks that collapsed in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they would never remove a 35,000-strong occupying army and wanted the right to militarily intervene again when they wanted.

Ozersay said if the city can reopen – it would take expensive and immense renovation and restructuring as it’s frozen in time and deteriorated – that rights would be respected and former inhabitants would be allowed to return to their properties under Turkish-Cypriot “sovereignty.”

Only Turkey recognizes the territory it seized in 1974 and a long line of diplomats, envoys and other officials have failed to make any headway despite many talks.

Ozersay said the Turkish-Cypriots want to make Varosha a tourist destination again as it was one of the mos famous in the world in the 1960’s and 1970’s, a favorite of the wealthy, celebrities and movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor.

That could give the weak Turkish-Cypriot economy a boost although the cost of making the crumbling buildings reusable again isn’t known and it could be prohibitive although Turkey is the major source of funds for the occupied territory.

After the Turkish army took control, Varosha’s population of 39,000 fled, many of them Greek-Cypriots hoping they would be allowed to return once the fighting subsided. That never happened and Turkey sealed off the town.

The move comes as Turkey has sent energy drilling ships into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to hunt for potentially lucrative gas fields, in defiance of Cyprus, the European Union, Greece and the United States who made proclamations.

Turkish-Cypriot self-declared prime minister Ersin Tatar admitted Varosha is being held hostage by Turkey and his side for reunification concessions and to force the legitimate government of Cyprus to give Turkish-Cypriots a bigger say in licensing of foreign energy companies offshore.


  1. The Turkish tourism and energy efforts in Cyprus could possibly have connections to international corporations. It will be useful to know the details of any such international corporate involvement, so that divestment campaigns could be considered on behalf of the legitimate government of Cyprus.

  2. In 1974 Turkey intervened legally to stop Greek Cypriots ethnically cleansing Cyprus of Turkish Cypriots. This action has never been labelled or stated by the UN as illegal or invasive, it was Turkey’s right as stated in the Independence agreement of 1963 to undertake this action.

    The Greek Cypriots convientantly forget this right and so do the press, who only appear to believe that the Greek Cypriot propaganda is the absolute truth.

    1. Frederick George Smith spouts a Turkish line of propaganda that is quite false.

      This all reminds me of the 1990s book Balkan Ghosts by Robert Kaplan, a book which was very anti-Greek, disgustingly so. And yet the author Kaplan nevertheless gave us one gem, for in one sentence in the book he summarized what is truly the manifesto held by aware Greeks these days: “We have lost so much, not one more inch will will give.”

  3. Frederick .. you must be one of those Anglo Saxon White Supremacist from America or England who graduated from the Colonialist School of Winston Churchill who was the architect of destabilizing and justifying the take over countries , who would not surrender their sovereignty to a foreign country like the British who taught the Turks how to take over countries and .in burning Orthodox Churches, and being called in todays terms… ethnically and religiously cleansing pf Greek Cypriots of Northern Cyprus, :

    “I do not admit for instance that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race to put it in that way has come in and taken their place.”

    That is.. what Turks do best, and what the Nato U.S, Turks, British and Saudi war crimes and genocide of the Middle East is all about,, which is based on lies, that they were saving humanity, in killing 2 million 00Vietnamese, 500,000 Iraqis, 250,000 libyans, 450,000 Syrians, 100,000Yemenis… all based on fighting terrorist to save the people ..when we now know .. it is U.S and British Anglos who organized these terror groups to incite war..like they did in Yugoslavia, libya, etc etc..to justify invasions and take overs of those countries!

    I don’t need to debate the legitimacy of your allegations..your record speaks for itself!

  4. Cont..
    Federick ..today your human rights idol Edrogan.. just got his convoy of Trucks carrying arms and weapons to his Terrorist proxy armies in Idlib , Syria bombed by the Syrian Air force ..who are advancing to liberate the last major terrorist strong hole in Syria of Al Queda forces armed by the U.S, British. and Turkey!

    You see, Turkey, also justified invading Syria with thousands of troops to ..guess what? Fight terrorist in Syria!
    However, the real reason Turkey is in Syria is to partition and Annex Northern Syria..which represent guess what.. about 32 % of Syria, like who ..Northern Cyprus with the cooperation of the U.S.

    The Foreign Minister of Syria …will enlighten you on what Turkey did in Cyprus….

    A statement issued by the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states

    “This agreement has very clearly exposed the US-Turkish partnership in the aggression against Syria which serves the interest of the Israeli occupation entity and the Turkish expansionist ambitions and it unequivocally exposed the misleading and evasiveness which govern the policies of the Turkish regime.”

    “Syria calls on the Arab people to be aware of the dangers of the expansionist ambitions of the Turkish regime which is spreading the killing and chaos in different parts of the Arab world from Syria to Libya and the Sudan and it will not stop till it will satisfy its illusions on reviving the Ottoman Sultanate,” the source said.

    The Syrian Ministry added…

  5. cont..
    The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative concluded by saying …

    “Syria calls on the international community and the UN to condemn the US-Turkish flagrant aggression which constitutes a dangerous escalation and poses a threat to peace and security in the region and the world and hinders all positive efforts for finding a solution to the crisis in Syria.”

    The Humanitarian narrative and war on terrorism ..is the oldest lie ..by Anglo Saxon White Supremacist to take over the sovereignty of all the independent countries of the world like Greece and Cyprus!

    No one is fooled ..only the people who still read the newspapers of England , and America.!

    England is now just a poodle to America ..and rapidly dying, and America is a desperate empire losing control, and Turkey was the prototype lie ..for future U.S. and British wars!

    Hey Federick..can you explain why your Turkish Narrative was not acceptable for Russian alleged Annexation of Crimea, and which in fact..was based on a legal referendum vote of the people of Crimea, and I do not recall the non ethnic Russians having there churches burned down, home confiscated, people murdered, and religious cleansing imposed! Yet the U.S and British declared economic and political warfare on Russia…that continues to today! Why have Nato British and U.S imposed economic sanctions and embargoes on the Turks in annexing Northern Cyprus !

    Greek Cypriots need to close U.S and British bases immediately!

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