Cyprus president to ask UN to stop ghost town redevelopment
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades says he will use every diplomatic measure to oppose Turkey’s plans to reopen Varosha (pictured), a fenced-off ghost town in Famagusta within the island’s green line buffer zone.
The value of land has been estimated at around US$100 billion.
Speaking in the part Famagusta district controlled by the Republic of Cypus, Anastasiades said the Turkish “challenges” at Varosha would be challenged.
“I will use my intervention in the UN, I will also have a meeting with the representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council, and with the UN secretary general, while at the same time European leaders have been informed and I have requested it be I will be on the agenda of the European Council in Brussels in October,” the president said, calling on Turkey to understand international law agreed by the UN and EU.
“We will do our best to protect the city that has been waiting for 45 years not for new settlers, but for its residents,” he said.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last week announced the opening up of Varosha after he visited the fenced area.
Kudret Özersay, the so-called foreign minister of Turkish Cyprus – although the enclave is not recognised by any country other than Turkey – announced plans to revitalise the ghost town.
Since 1974 it has been a military zone with only Turkish and UN military personnel have been allowed to enter the once popular tourist destination.
Before 1974 it had a population of around 40,000 with 45 hotels, 60 apartment-hotels and 380 unfinished buildings.
The initiative aims to examine the ownership status using Ottoman land registry archives with three major waqfs or pious foundations apparently owning most of the beach.
Anastasiades said Turkish drilling for gas inside Cypriot territory should also provide a response against the nationalist government in Ankara.
Turkey has accused Nicosia of acting unilaterally regarding the exploitation of Cyprus’ gas reserves at the expense of the Turkish-Cypriot community in the occupied north.
He said a sticking point in talks with Ankara was Turkish insistence on the continued presence of its occupying army.
The Famagusta region is reportedly due to be returned to Greek Cypriot administration under any peace deal for the island.
Varosha. Picture credit: Wikimedia