281 Greek Cypriots apply to Turkish Cypriot authorities for properties in Varosha
Some 281 Greek Cypriots sought compensation from Turkish Cyprus’ immovable property commission (IPC) for houses and businesses in the closed off area of Varosha (Maraş) in the divided island.
The abandoned town is expected to reopen to its former residents under the Turkish Cypriot administration following presidential elections scheduled for Oct. 11.
Speaking to Demirören News Agency, the head of the commission, Ayfer Said Erkmen, said that so far 281 Greek Cypriot owners of properties in Varosha filed applications with the IPC.
Noting that the Varosha area is 4,638 decares in size, Ayfer said that the applications made so far are about 2,318 decares, which corresponds to 50 percent of the whole town.
Some 193 of the applicants want their properties back, while the rest requested compensation to the tune of 1.4 billion euros in compensation, according to Turkish Cypriot media.
Varosha was a famous resort region in Cyprus which boasted a capacity of 10,000 beds across more than 100 hotels. But it has been closed since 1974.
The IPC was set up by the Turkish Cypriot administration as the domestic remedy for claims relating to Greek Cypriot properties in the northern part of the island.
The commission is the only internationally recognized Turkish Cypriot institution other than the Turkish Cypriot leadership.
Those who owned properties in Varosha before 1974 will be called after the change of the status of the region, according to Demirören News Agency.
As soon as there is a property dispute in Varosha, the IPC will step in and the property owners will apply to the commission to seek the solution of the problems.
Some buildings will be repaired by their owners, while others will be demolished to be rebuilt with the reopening of the ghost town.
The city is protected by a 1984 U.N. Security Council resolution, stating that the empty town can only be resettled by its original inhabitants.
Seeing the return of properties in Varosha to their legal owners in accordance with international law, the incumbent Turkish Cypriot Mustafa Akıncı believes that an informal five-party Cyprus conference will take place after the election.
Akıncı signaled in a meeting in the capital Lefkoşa that if the talks in the informal conference succeed, formal negotiations for comprehensive settlement in Cyprus could start again.
The Cyprus problem has remained unresolved for decades despite a series of efforts by the U.N. for a lasting settlement between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
The latest attempt to resolve the problem ended with failure two years ago in Switzerland, and recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have further complicated efforts for a settlement.