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  • Apollon Bairaktaridis

Erdoğan Announces the Reopening of the Ghost Town of Varosha in Cyprus; Going Against UN Regulations

The planned reopening of a ghost town on Cyprus’ eastern shore has drawn criticism from the EU and the Republic of Cyprus.

The resurfacing of streets is one of the first steps involved in the reopening of Varosha. (Photo: Tagesschau)

Varosha was once a very popular Mediterranean tourist destination that attracted mostly upper-class vacationers from around Europe. After the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a military coup by Greek paramilitaries, the area was occupied by Turkish forces and 45.000 Greeks who inhabited that city before the invasion were forced to leave (This forced expulsion was part of a larger population swap in which 150.000 Greeks from the northern part of the island and 60.000 Turkish Cypriots from the southern part of the island were forcibly removed). Varosha was later declared a restricted military area. Slowly but surely, Varosha turned into a ghost town as nature reclaimed more and more of the formerly inhabited buildings each year.

According to a UN-Resolution it is not allowed to populate the ghost-town with settlers except its former inhabitants. As long as Cyprus remains divided in two parts it is not possible for the former inhabitants of Varosha to return to their homes. However, the Turkish President Erdogan announced the partial reopening of the ghost-town by violating the resolutions 550 and 789 of the UN Security Council. He also stated that Cyprus has to be divided into two states officially. The state of Northern Cyprus, which was founded after the invasion of 1974, is not recognized internationally by any state, except for Turkey.

These recent measures provoked an international reaction. The UN, the EU and the foreign ministers of Germany, USA and France condemned Turkey and its one-sided actions that can destabilize the region. The President of Turkey, Recep Erdoğan, has caused serious denouncements of his actions in the past by leaders in the West. The EU, of whom Cyprus is a member, is being called on by Greek Cypriots to ensure that the UN Resolutions are being properly followed. This step of Erdoğan will once again open the debate within the EU to terminate the failed accession negotiation with Turkey, as the accession of Turkey to the European Union now seems highly unlikely given the present state of Turkish politics.

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