Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022


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Ghost town re-opens to tourists for first time in nearly 50 years

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A crumbling ghost town once dubbed "millionaire’s playground" has re-opened to tourists for the first time in nearly 50 years.

It was once the sun-kissed tourist paradise that attracted the rich and famous to it’s pristine beaches.

But when conflict gripped Cypyus’s rivera in 1974 Varosha was abandoned, it was confined to sit dilapidated along the shore behind barbed wire fences.

As well as attracting holidaymakers, Varosha was home to over 39,000 residents who were forced to flee their homes following the coup.

Now, 50 years on, the beachfront playground has been reo-pened by The Turkish Defence Military.

Cyprus was divided into two in 1974 when a coup backed by the Greek government was met with opposition by Turkish military, partitioning the country between Turkish-Cypriots in the north and a Greek Cypriot in the south.

And for decades Varosha has been a forbidden no-mans land in between.

However, footprints were made in the sand for the first time in half a century this week as tourists took to the beaches.

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Ersin Tatar, prime minister of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), said Tuesday: "We are starting the process to make people use the public areas of our land, Sahil and Demokrasi streets, and the beach. Maras, which was like a ghost town, is now coming back to life."

Referring to the district by its Turkish name, Tatar said: "God willing, we will start to use the Maras beach on Thursday morning together with our people."

Varosha has lain empty and decaying, a long way from being graced by Hollywood’s elite such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Haunting hotels have stood dormant, with smashed windows and locked doors.

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But as it re-opened this week, streams of Turkish Cypriots clambered through fences to take in the deserted resort – some waving, and wearing, flags as they explored almost uncharted streets.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported Tatar's plan, saying Tuesday: "It is Turkish Cypriot authorities who have a right to say here. So under the light of this truth, we are fully supporting your decision of opening the beautiful beach of Maras for the use of your people, according to your road map."

But the move has promoted a backlash from international criticism, CNN reports.

The Republic of Cyprus said it would protest “illegal action” and claimed the opening violated international law.

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In a statement, the Government said: “(We) condemn in the strongest terms the decision of the occupier, Turkey, and one of its henchman in the occupied areas, Ersin Tatar, to extend the license for entry to the coastal front of Varosha, during a pre-election fiesta they held in Ankara, in the eve of the electoral process for the emergence of a new Turkish Cypriot leader."

Greece had appealed for the move not to go ahead, and Russia said it was “unacceptable”, according to reports.

The United Nations officially believes the resort is occupied territory within the Republic of Cyprus.

Meanwhile, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the EU was "deeply concerned" about the announcements.

He warned that the developments would "cause greater tensions and may complicate efforts for the resumption of Cyprus settlement talks."

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