The House of Representatives unanimously condemned statements made by Unal Ustel, the north’s ‘prime minister’, that the north will move to reopen the entirety of Varosha after local ‘elections’ in December.
“They told us not to reopen Varosha, we opened it… After the elections, we will proceed with the reopening of the entire town,” Ustel reportedly said during a campaign event on Thursday.
That led to the swift condemnation by the Republic’s MPs later that night, calling on the EU and UN to take action to halt the Turkish moves.
For his part, Ustel emphasised that a move to reopen the entire town will be “done with the mother country Turkey”.
He praised the policy as an opportunity to boost the local economy and as a way of increasing employment amongst the younger population.
Currently a few main roads are open to the public and two main beachfronts – with the accessible path cutting across a wide stretch of the town, but much of it remains off-limits.
Ustel’s heightened rhetoric follows on from comments made by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides in mid-October that the north was planning a further partial reopening – namely that of Ayios Memnonas.
At the time, Kasoulides said that the government has received similar information to Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar’s comments that ‘municipal’ and ‘government’ buildings are to be opened in Varosha.
The north has repeatedly sought to send a clear message to the Republic that Varosha is part of its territory, with their ‘foreign minister’ in August stating that the future of the fenced-off town is a decision for the Turkish Cypriots.
Varosha was first partially reopened to the public in October 2020 with smaller steps being taken ever since, such as adding amenities along the beach front, including restaurants.
That has led Tatar to consistently claim that Varosha is no longer a ghost town, stating that hundreds of thousands of people have visited the area during the past two years.
Indeed, busloads of tourists arrive just outside the fenced-off area, as a checkpoint has been opened next to the Dr Fazil Kucuk stadium. Tour guides across various apps and platforms offer guided daytrips to the town.