Turkish Cyprus considers granting civilian status to Varosha military zone
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar has said works are underway to change Varosha’s military status to a civilian one, adding that the way for the return of real estates to their Greek owners will be paved.
“We are preparing for a legal regulation. The military zone will turn into a civilian zone,” Tatar said on Feb. 12, speaking at an online meeting with the Diplomatic Correspondent’s Association.
“Over time, Varosha will become a region like every other region of the [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] TRNC. There is no legal obstacle to transition into a civilian zone,” he said.
But the Turkish Cypriot administration is not taking an immediate step on the issue because of some safe boxes locked within the military zone.
It’s been said that there are nearly 400 safe boxes in Varosha, which has been under the protection of the military forces since 1974, he noted.
“We said, let’s find the owners of those safes first. If the owners do not come, let us put them in the warehouse of our largest public bank,” he stated.
Tatar said they will prefer returning the properties to their owners rather than addressing the Immovable Property Commission for their assets.
The Immovable Property Commission was established in the early 2000s in a bid to deal with Cypriots’ claims over their properties in the south and the north of Cyprus after the island was divided. The immovable property commission was defined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as an acceptable domestic remedy for these assets in Cyprus.
According to the laws, the properties within the protection of the military zone in North Cyprus cannot be returned to their owners and the region has to be granted civilian status first for Greeks to return to the town and operate their real estates.
Tatar noted that his government is currently carrying out infrastructural work for the region.
The Greek Cypriots living in Varosha left the city after a Turkish military intervention in the island in 1974 to save the Turkish Cypriots from Greek Cypriots’ attacks. Known as a ghost city, Varosha was abandoned since then with no permission for public access.
Varosha was a famous resort region in Cyprus that boasted a capacity of 10,000 beds across more than 100 hotels. But it has been closed since 1974.
Known as a ghost city, Varosha was abandoned since then with no permission to public access. The coastline of the abandoned town was opened to the public on Oct. 8 last year.