On Saturday, Turkish and northern Cypriot officials held a round table during which a discussion was held on the future fate of Varosha, a once-glitzy resort community which is now a ghost town located to the south of Famagusta, a city in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay stated that the authorities of Northern Cyprus have every right to prepare for the opening of the settlement of Varosha, which has been sealed off from everyone except intrepid drone pilots by the Turkish military since 1974.
“Keeping this coast of paradise under the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus idle is not acceptable legally, politically or economically,” Oktay said.
He also said that the area is part of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and that its inhabitants have every right to take all necessary measures to ensure the economic development and stability of the region.
Varosha is technically protected by a 1984 UN Security Council resolution, which says that an empty city can only be inhabited by its original inhabitants. However, the TRNC itself isn't recognised by the UN, or any country other than Turkey, which is responsible for keeping people out of the ghost town.
In 1974, a devastating war resulted in the partitioning of the island nation of Cyprus, which had been ruled by the Ottomans and then the British before gaining independence, between its Greek and Turkish residents. The intervention in the war of the Turkish military resulted in Varosha's original Greek inhabitants fleeing, and the resort ended up in Turkish hands when the TRNC was established. Negotiations between the parties on the reunification of the island have so far failed to bear fruit.
The TRNC occupies the northern third of the island of Cyprus; the only authority on the island which is recognised by the international community is the government of the Republic of Cyprus, which is a member state of the European Union.