Speeding its plan to reopen the abandoned town of Varosha - in violation of a United Nations resolution - Turkey allowed journalists to see the former tourist resort on the occupied part of Cyprus, as did Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.
Group of Turkish journalists Thursday visited Varosha (Maras), a former tourist resort in The visit was organized by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the self-declared Foreign Ministry of the Turkish-Cypriot side, said the pro-government, state-backed newspaper The Daily Sabah.
Special guides accompanied the journalists during the tour of the eerie area where until now only Turkish army personnel had been allowed, to see the crumbling once-famous hotels and car dealerships with 1974 models rusting away.
The Turkish-Cypriot on June 18 said it would begin inventorying the infrastructure and buildings and plans to re-open it for settlement despite engineers worried whether it was sound enough, and with the 1984 UN resolution stating the empty town can only be resettled by its original inhabitants.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy, who visited Varosha earlier in August, said his country was ready to provide the necessary technical and financial support to get it going again.
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.
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, Unal Ustel.
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 technical and financial support after an ownership inventory work is completed.
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.