Turkish Cypriot, Turkish contractors ink deal to renew ‘ghost town’ Varosha
Elif Ergu – ISTANBULTurkish Cyprus contractors have inked a deal with their Turkish counterparts to rebuild the “ghost town” of Varosha, as hopes of finding a peaceful solution to the Cyprus issue increased due to the accelerated talks between the leaders of the Turkish and Greek communities on the island.
The Turkish Contractors Association (TCA) and the Cyprus Turkish Building Contractors Association (KTİMB) agreed to jointly make use of the island’s abandoned resort town of Varosha, as a peace deal is expected to be reached soon between the two communities on the island.
Varosha, a former resort suburb of Famagusta, was abandoned and declared a buffer zone between the communities of the island after Turkey partly invaded the island in 1974 following a coup attempt by Greece to unite Cyprus with the mainland.
The 40-year-old conflict on the island appears to be nearing a resolution, as meetings for a U.N.-brokered deal started in early 2015.
The KTİMB and the Federation of Associations of Building Contractors Cyprus (OSEOK) had agreed around two months ago to cooperate during and after the peace talks process and jointly make use of the construction potential on the island after a deal is inked.
Building upon this agreement, the Turkish Cypriot contractors signed a deal with their Turkish counterparts to help them during the new process and also function as a bridge for Turkish Cypriot contractors to open up to the world.
Popular resort town
Known to be a popular resort town until its abandonment, Varosha was often visited by world-renowned actresses like Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s.
While there is a need for infrastructure investment in the Turkish Cypriot part of the island, there are also places that were not used as tourism venues which hold great potential, as well as places that await renovation. Of all the idle areas on the island, Varosha stands as the place with the greatest potential.
TCA head Mithat Yenigün, TCA Secretary-General Haluk Büyükbaş and KTİMB head Cafer Gürcafer along with contractors from both sides came together in Cyprus and signed a protocol for this cooperation. The contractors visited Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two parties in a ceremony which was attended by Turkish Cypriot Finance Minister Birikim Özgür and Interior and Labor Minister Asım Akansoy.
Yenigün said they intended to cooperate with the region, which is both geographically and morally close to Turkey.
“We perceive that the politicians have improved positively on the road to a solution,” said Yenigün.
‘100,000 billion euros of investment potential’
Stating that in the early 1970s the total number of beds in Varosha was 20,000 while the total in Turkey was 15,000, Yenigün said a deal would allow for the area to be like the old days.
Yenigün added there was the potential for 100,000 billion euros of investment on the island.
Gürcafer said a resolution between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities would pave the way for the potential of Varosha to be explored.
Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades met in the divided capital of Nicosia six times in November, under the guidance of the United Nations, to work on the issues needed to be solved for a peaceful resolution, while three meetings were conducted in December.
A number of foreign ministers from the world’s most powerful countries have expressed their support for the talks and their hope for a peaceful solution being closer than ever before during their visits to the island.