Fenced-off Varosha has 100,000 visits since ‘opening’

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More than 100,000 people have visited the fenced-off area of Varosha since the Turkish Cypriot side unilaterally opened part of the abandoned town’s beachfront in October despite international condemnation.

According to Turkish Cypriot media 103,118 visits were recorded since the decaying resort town opened for the first time since 1974.

Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi reported that Greek Cypriots and foreign nationals were among those who paid a visit to the ‘ghost town’, noting that Varosha is busiest at the weekends.

Public infrastructure projects that have been carried out to facilitate access to the area, including a bicycle lane while authorities are working on restoring lighting to the streets leading to the beachfront.

The fenced-off town is opened daily to the public from 9 am to 5 pm, a move that has been condemned by the Cyprus government, the UN and the EU.

The move was conceived to be a direct intervention from Ankara in last year’s election, and a ploy by Turkey to get candidate Ersin Tatar elected as the new Turkish Cypriot leader.

The Turkish side opened part of Varosha to the wider public just before the second round of the elections in the north with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making the announcement himself in the presence of Tatar.

After Tatar won the election, both he and Turkey announced that more areas of Varosha would gradually open with talk of bringing in investors from Turkey to redevelop the town.

Greek Cypriot refugees were also invited to return under Turkish Cypriot administration.

Erdogan himself has publicly called for the opening and the settlement of Varosha, while the Turkish state made a turn in its policy over peace talks in Cyprus, openly supporting a two-state solution.

Turkish Cypriot authorities opened part of the once Greek Cypriot resort of Varosha on October 8, in violation of UN resolutions.

UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN.