A frolicking video shot by a noted Turkish-Cypriot singer in the abandoned resort of Varosha on the occupied side which has been partially reopened has stirred anger among Greek-Cypriots, many of whose properties were seized during an unlawful invasion in 1974 that split the island.
The Turkish newspaper The Daily Hurriyet reported on the brouhaha over Nihayet Elibol, a 32-year-old singer known as Nini, shooting the clip for her latest song Bulaman (You Can’t Find) on the beaches of the crumbling resort.
It has been left as it was in 1974 and accessible until now by only the Turkish military or officials before part of it, including the beach which drew famous celebrities, being partially reopened mostly for Turks and Turkish-Cypriots.
The shooting took place in the summer, the report said, but wasn’t released until Nov. 16 on YouTube and promoted to her 27,000 followers on Twitter, a 3 ½ minute video showing young people dancing and singing on the beach and streets between abandoned buildings.
Dilapidated homes, hotels and shattered storefronts are also seen as the group cycles along the refurbished roads, the paper said, adding it particularly perturbed Greek-Cypriots became it was released the day after the 38th anniversary of a declaration of Turkish-Cypriot Republic.
No other country apart from Turkey recognizes the self-declared government and the video saw the singer barraged with hate messages and insults after a story about it in The Cyprus Mail.
Some Greek-speaking users on social media criticized the clip, saying it was in poor taste and that it shows a lack of respect for the sensitive nature of the town, which has become emblematic of the island’s division, said the Turkish paper.
“Let the buildings fall on you, Cyprus is Greek,” were among the messages Elibol received, the report said, as Varosha has become a symbol of the failure of reunification efforts.
The ghost town was once the island’s top tourism destination but has been fenced off and empty since the 1974 invasion but the Turkish paper said the video was praised by Turks.
“I did not expect such a racist reaction from the Greek Cypriots. Varosha is a very beautiful and touristic place for shooting clips and movies,” Elibol said, adding that many Greeks also visited the area and that those who came were constantly taking photos and videos.
“I did not give a political message in my song, I just wanted Varosha to be known, and I did well,” she noted.