Civil rights

Reopening of Varosha in accordance with civil rights: Turkish Cyprus


The partial reopening of the former ghost town of Varosha (MaraÅŸ) in the north of the island of Cyprus was carried out with respect for civil rights, President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Ersin said on Tuesday. Tatar.

Tatar, who received the chairman of the Real Estate Commission (TMK), Növber Ferit Vechi, said the commission had an important duty.

He stressed that the pressure exerted by the Greek Cypriot side on its citizens not to turn to the TMK is wrong.

Noting that Varosha has been reopened with Turkish support, he said the adopted regulations were shared with the whole world.

“We have indicated that if an application is made, the TMK will assess it. It has been decided by the Council of Ministers that the assets of the 3.5% pilot region will be returned to the applicants,” he added. .

Tatar said the reopening of Varosha is an important political step, adding that the policies of the TRNC have facilitated progress.

Varosha is a suburb of Famagusta, a city that was the tourist center of Cyprus before 1974 thanks to its pristine beaches and modern hotels. Varosha was a famous resort on the island with a capacity of 10,000 beds in over 100 hotels. Turkish military forces intervened on the island following a Greek-backed coup, ending years of persecution and violence against Turkish Cypriots by ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriots. After the 15,000 Greek Cypriot residents of Varosha fled in the face of advancing Turkish troops, the area was closed to prevent access until October 2019, when Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities announced it would reopen.

Varosha was abandoned after a 1984 United Nations Security Council resolution saying only its original residents could resettle the city. Entry into the city was prohibited except for Turkish army personnel stationed in the TRNC. Had the Greek Cypriots accepted the 2004 UN Cyprus reunification plan, known as the Annan Plan, Varosha would now be back under Greek Cypriot control and its people back in their homes. Despite this, the majority of Greek Cypriots voted against the plan, while Turkish Cypriots voted in favor.

Varosha had practically become a ghost town because it was cut off from the world for 47 years. Part of the region – roughly 3.5% of the total area – was reopened in October 2020, with visitors invited to visit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily. Since the reopening, Varosha has attracted both TRNC residents and foreign tourists, with the environment and landscape around the city also enhancing its appeal.

The United Nations Security Council condemned the decision of Turkey and Turkish Cyprus to reopen a residential area in the abandoned suburb and called for its “immediate reversal”, warning that it could increase tensions on the Mediterranean island divided, and a presidential statement approved by the 15 council members at a public meeting reiterated that any attempt to colonize any part of the Varosha suburb “by people other than its inhabitants is inadmissible.”

In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the UNSC statement as well as the “unfounded claims” of several countries on the reopening of Varosha in Turkish Cyprus. Noting that Varosha is part of Turkish Cyprus, he stressed that the city “has not been opened for colonization and has been declared a military zone as a sign of goodwill by the TRNC authorities”. Turkey assured that all decisions taken by the TRNC authorities “respect property rights and fully comply with international law”.

Turkish authorities and the TRNC have repeatedly called on Greek Cypriots and other citizens who own assets in Varosha to approach the Real Property Commission.

Cyprus is mired in a decades-long dispute between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the United Nations to reach a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks that began in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to retreat to enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at the annexation of the island by Greece led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.

It has seen an intermittent peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of the guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom.

The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year the Greek Cypriots thwarted a United Nations plan to end this long-standing dispute.

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