Cyprus:  Turkey says Cyprus town of Varosha to reopen amid Greek objection

Authorities in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus announced on Tuesday a partial reopening of an abandoned town for potential resettlement, drawing a strong rebuke from Greek Cypriot and international leaders including the United States.


Varosha, an eerie collection of derelict high-rise hotels and residences, has been deserted since a 1974 war that split the island, a military zone nobody has been allowed to enter.


Northern Cyprus authorities opened a small area for day visits in November 2020, and on Tuesday said a part of it would be converted to civilian use with a mechanism in place for people to potentially reclaim their properties.


“A new era will begin in Maras which will benefit everyone,” said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who was visiting breakaway Northern Cyprus on Tuesday. Maras is the Turkish name for Varosha.


“We don’t have another 50 years to waste,” Erdogan told a crowd at a parade to mark the 47th anniversary of his country’s invasion that divided the Mediterranean island.


According to Turkish daily SABAH, nearly 200,000 guests have already visited the town of Maraş (Varosha), in the northern part of Cyprus, which was partially reopened to the public in 2020 after 47 years, the country’s president said Tuesday.


Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar told reporters in Turkey’s Mersin province that the reopening of Varosha brought innovation and expansion to the city of Gazimağusa (Famagusta).


Harsh reaction from White House


The U.S. condemned Turkey’s move to transfer parts of Varosha to Turkish Cypriot control and will urge a strong response from the UN Security Council.

“The step is clearly inconsistent with UN Security Council resolutions that call for Varosha to be administered by the UN” Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss U.S. policy on Turkey, Bloomberg reports.


Turkey and the Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus are tired of endless negotiations in the dispute over the island’s constitutional limbo, which has bene divided since 1974. The Turkish side aims at a two-state solution, with TRNC automatically admitted to EU.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.