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Turkish Cypriots to open disputed Varosha to tourism: report

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The Turkish Cypriot government has decided to reopen Varosha, once a holiday destination for Hollywood stars but later a ghost town after the division of the island 45 years ago, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“Greek Cyprus might have objections, but at the end of the day this place is under our administration. Of course, we have to discuss the issue with Turkey,” Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar told Turkish broadcaster A Haber on Wednesday.

The former resort suburb of Famagusta was abandoned and declared a buffer zone between the communities of the island after the Turkish military intervened as a guarantor power following a Greek-inspired coup attempt in 1974.

Before the closure under a United Nations Security Council ruling, there were more than 100 hotels in Varosha, with accommodations for 10,000. The closure came at a time when hundreds of new construction projects were ongoing. The town also hosted a library that offered books in Turkish, Greek and English.

However, the hotels, restaurants and high-rise structures looking out over the sandy beaches of Varosha have been slowly deteriorating.

The status of the resort, once frequented by celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, has always been on the table in decades-long on-and-off talks for a settlement.

The Turkish side’s recent decision comes at a time when the parties, along with Turkey and Greece, are involved in an exchange of words and diplomatic moves over fossil fuel rights off the island.

The latest attempt to resolve the Cyprus issue held with the participation of the guarantor countries — Turkey, Greece and the UK – ended in failure in 2017 in Switzerland.

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