Ghost Resort in Cyprus Might Become Peace Offering



varosha708The deserted tourist resort in Varosha, Cyprus, might play a serious role in a 41-year-old diplomatic dispute between the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and the legitimate Cypriot government.

The resort in Varosha, near the city of Famagusta, was a splendid example of what a holiday in the east Mediterranean means. Back in the sixties, movie stars and the world’s rich and famous used to enjoy its luxuries and natural beauty. Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot were just two of its famous clientele.

All that stopped in July 1974, when the Turkish armed forces invaded the northern part of the island in response to a military coup that was instigated by Greece’s junta with the ambition to unite the two countries.

The mostly Greek-Cypriot population of the area was forced to flee and never came back. The resort was abandoned and became a seaside ghost town, guarded nevertheless by Turkish soldiers. Cars from the 60s and 70s have remained rusting in the parking lots, while mannequins in the stores still wear dusty fashion clothes from fabulous 1974.

varosha-famagusta-cyprus3However, there is a possibility that all that might change. On Sunday, an independent leftist, Mustafa Akinci, was “elected” President of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” a bogus country only Turkey recognizes.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades welcomed Akinci’s “election,” who was mayor of the northern half of Nicosia for 14 years and has often expressed ideas of a reunited Cyprus, having an olive branch as his campaign logo. “At last, our hopes are high that this country can be reunited.”

Akinci expressed the idea that Varosha should be returned to Greek-Cypriots as an act of good faith so that Turkey and Cyprus can finally come to a settlement of the decades-long dispute. The Varosha resort can serve as a diplomatic gift.

The two leaders agreed to meet next week, opening again the lines of communication after peace talks had frozen in October 2014, when Anastasiades suspended his participation following a Navigational Telex (NAVTEX) issued by Turkey for the conduction of hydrocarbons research in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by seismic vessel “Barbaros,” escorted by a number of Turkish Navy ships.