A ghost town in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprusis set to open this week for the first time since the division of the Mediterranean island in 1974, Turkey’s president said on Tuesday.
A part of the ancient port town of Famagusta called Varosha, which has remained uninhabited since the war that split Cyprus, will reopen on Thursday. The controversial announcement by
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara was endorsed by the Turkish Cypriot premier, ErsinTatar.
“It is an indisputable fact that Maras is part of (Turkish) Cyprus,”Erdogan said, using the Turkish name for Varosha. “We support your decision to open the beautiful coastline in Maras to public use,” he told Tatar. The premier, who isn’t internationally recognized, called it an “irreversible step.” Famagusta has been seen as a bargaining chip in the decades-longstand-off between the
Turkish-controlled north and Greek-controlled south, with the latter demanding its return to its original inhabitants – the Greek Cypriots.
The Varosha coastline – two avenues and a beach – are to open, said Tatar. Famagusta was once considered a playground for the rich and famous, with its golden beaches and luxury hotels. When
Turkish tanks advanced on Famagusta in 1974, around 40,000Varosha residents fled. The 600 hectares of Varosha that were fenced off still stand bullet-ridden and deserted today under Turkey’s direct control. Numerous attempts by the United Nations to find a solution to the Cyprus imbroglio have failed over the years. There have recently been high tensions between Turkey, Cyprus and
Greece over natural gas reserves and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.—dpa