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Turkey readies part of Cyprus ghost-town for civilian use

People attend the Peace and Freedom Day celebrations, which is held to mark the 47th anniversary of the Cyprus Peace Operation, in Nicosia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on 20 July 2021. [Erçin Ertürk - Anadolu Agency]
People attend the Peace and Freedom Day celebrations, which is held to mark the 47th anniversary of the Cyprus Peace Operation, in Nicosia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on 20 July 2021. [Erçin Ertürk - Anadolu Agency]

Turkish Cypriot authorities announced on Tuesday the partial reopening of the abandoned town of Varosha, Al Jazeera reports.

Varosha, an eerie collection of derelict high-rise hotels and residences, has been deserted since a 1974 war that split the island, a military zone nobody has been allowed to enter.

Northern Cyprus authorities opened a small area for day visits in November 2020, and on Tuesday said a part of it would be converted for civilian use with a mechanism in place for people to potentially reclaim their properties.

"A new era will begin in Maras which will benefit everyone," said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who visited breakaway Northern Cyprus on Tuesday. Maras is the Turkish name for Varosha.

This move prompted backlash from the Greek Cypriots in the south of the island, who view it as an indirect land grab.

Northern Cyprus President Ersin Tatar said on Tuesday that the move to reopen Varosha was part of a "second phase" that would see 3.5 per cent of the city's territory transferred from military to civilian control.

Northern Cyprus prompted anger last year when it moved to reopen the coastal promenade.

READ: France, EU lawmakers push for sanctions on Turkey next month

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CyprusEurope & RussiaMiddle EastNewsTurkey
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