EU criticizes Varosha plans: Erdogan wants to revive ghost town

EU criticizes Varosha plans
Erdogan wants to revive ghost town

The Cypriot city of Varosha became a tourist stronghold in the 1970s, which became a ghost town after a territorial conflict. The Turkish president wants to revive the old glamor of Varosha – but without the consent of Cyprus.

During a visit to the northern part of the island of Cyprus occupied by Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushed ahead with the opening of the ghost town of Varosha. “Life in Varosha will begin again,” said the head of state in the presence of the North Cypriot President Ersin Tatar. The EU called Erdogan’s approach “unacceptable”.

The coastal town controlled by Turkey is located directly on the UN buffer zone between the Turkish northern and Greek southern parts of the Mediterranean island. Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north since 1974; at that time the northern part of the Mediterranean island was occupied by Turkey. The UN has been trying for a long time to mediate, so far without success.

The streets in Varosha are almost deserted.

(Photo: imago images / NurPhoto)

Turkey is the only state that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was proclaimed in 1983. Erdogan has been in Northern Cyprus since Monday on the occasion of the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion. At the start of the trip, he renewed his call for a two-state solution for Cyprus. If the Turkish head of state has its way, Varosha will fall to Northern Cyprus.

Erdogan again offered financial compensation on Tuesday to Greek Cypriots who had to leave the city and their property in 1974. Northern Cyprus President Tatar has meanwhile announced the “second phase” of the reopening of Varosha, a once popular resort where Hollywood celebrities also spent their vacations. A few weeks before the election of Tatar, the Turkish army had restored public access to parts of the beach promenade.

Erdogan attacks Greek Cypriots

The EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell sharply criticized the plans on Tuesday. The announced plans to open up Varosha further represented an “unacceptable unilateral decision”. The internationally recognized government in Nicosia repeatedly emphasizes that Varosha is a “red line”. Before his visit to Varosha, Erdogan visited the divided Cypriot city of Nicosia.

The resumption of a negotiation process in the Cyprus conflict could only take place “between two states,” said Erdogan there. The “sovereignty” of the northern part of Cyprus and its “equality” with the Republic of Cyprus must be recognized. “Without recognizing the fact that there are two peoples and two states, no progress can be made,” said Erdogan. He accused the Greek Cypriots of insisting on a “maximalist” and “insincere” position that was “detached from reality”. “You are not being honest,” emphasized Erdogan. He made the same accusation against the EU.