Ghost town Varosha awaiting to reopen
Ömer Bilge/Yorgo Kırbaki - VAROSHA
With the Turkish Cypriots’ decision to revert the military status of a pilot zone, the ghost resort Varsoha, into a civilian one, the initial step for resettlement is expected to affect 350 Greek families.
In the town of Varosha, which covers an area of 5 square kilometers, a pilot area of 175 acres was selected, and its military status was abolished.
A total of 350 Greek families will be given the opportunity to return to their homes through the court in the first place.
The first step taken was the opening of civil visits in September last year. The second step was announced during the historic visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 20. During the Independence Day celebrations, Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar said that they had decided to remove the military status of an area that corresponds to 3.5 percent of the town.
The city of Varosha, which extends to the coast adjacent to the city of Famagusta, is located within an area of 5 square kilometers.
The area, whose military status was abolished, starts at the border of Varosha, adjacent to the Famagusta Municipality, at the back of the city’s coastline where the five-star hotels are lined, and is bordered with Democracy Street, which is famous in the city and where the tradesmen were concentrated. It ends in the nation’s garden with the Bilal Ağa Masjid, inaugurated by Erdoğan and Tatar on July 20.
In the full expression of the decision of the regional council of ministers, the area which was removed from military status is 174,643 square meters, approximately 175 acres. According to the names given by the Greeks before 1974, its full address is the Aya Nikolas district, Elmu street, including the roads leading to this street.
Simos Yohannu, the head of the association of the Varosha Greeks, said that properties in the region belong to 350 Greek families and that 36 of these rightful Greeks have applied to the Immovable Property Commission established in Turkish Cyprus and recognized by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
A total of 344 applications related to Varosha were not concluded because the city was a military zone. It is foreseen that these cases will be concluded quickly and that the Greeks will return to the pilot area. It is expected that the Varosha Greeks will be given a “white identity” as is given to the other Greeks living in the Karpaz villages of Turkish Cyprus.
Greek media and nationalist parties accuse Varosha’s migrant Greeks, who want to return to the city under Turkish Cyprus rule, of treason. The Greek Cypriot administration led by Nikos Anastasiadis argues that if the migrants accept Turkish rule, Varosha will be completely lost.