NICOSIA – Hardline Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar – who doesn’t want reunification of the island – said the partial reopening of the abandoned ghost resort of Varosha on the occupied side was done to protect civil rights.
The area remains as it was since unlawful Turkish invasions in 1974 that seized the northern third of the island, now a self-declared republic that no other country recognizes – but which Tatar has demanded.
A small part of the resort was reopened in October, 2020, drawing fire from the United Nations which had passed symbolic resolutions indicating that stolen property and homes had to be returned to their original owners.
The region had been blocked off to all except Turkey’s military but the reopening has seen Turkish visitors and foreign visitors coming to the chagrin of Greek-Cypriots whose property lies unused.
Tatar said Turkey supported the reopening, the only country to do so, noted Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah that is essentially a mouthpiece for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose government has been jailing journalists and trying to squash independent media.
Tatar met with the President of the Immovable Property Commission (TMK), Növber Ferit Vechi and said that the owners of property in Varosha could make an application to be evaluated to get it back.
Varosha was a world wide famous resort area that drew celebrities and the rich but now has deteriorated away, with plans to try to resurrect it despite the difficulty of fixing crumbling infrastructure.
After Varosha’s 15,000 Greek-Cypriot residents fled invading Turkish troops in 1974, the area was fenced off to prevent access until October 2019, when Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot authorities announced its reopening.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry earlier rejected the UN’s stance and said that the city “has not been opened to settlement and was declared a military zone as a goodwill gesture,” by Turkish-Cypriot authorities.
“Turkey assured that all decisions made by the TRNC authorities “respect the property rights and are in full compliance with international law,” it said but won’t return them.