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Our View: Book a room in a non-existent hotel for 2025

Hotels on the beach front in Varosha

The mystery Turkish businessman who announced in April that he had purchased three hotels in the fenced off area of Varosha, was back in the news this week, having told Yeni Bakis that he had bought a fourth hotel as well as 20 donums of land. He had also set up a website on which reservations could be made for 2025, although he said that if the military zone status of Varosha was not changed by September next year all reservations would be cancelled.

The overall impression is of a well-executed hoax, or at best, a publicity stunt. Who is the phantom businessman, whose identity has been a well-guarded secret? How will he have hotels, which would need major construction work, operating within two years in a Wild-West type town without the most basic infrastructure? And how could he be taking reservations for stay in hotels that do not exist, on the strength of some 3D virtual design?3 another varosha avatar

That there has been no denial about the purchase of the hotels allows the phantom businessmen to carry on with his publicity stunt. It is entirely possible he bought the hotels from their Greek Cypriot owners, but having a title deed does not mean he can undertake work on them in order to open them.

The fenced-off area of Varosha remains a military zone, under the control of the Turkish military, and there is no indication that this status would change soon, a prospect the businessman acknowledged. Although Varosha was officially opened a couple of years ago, in the presence of President Erdogan, it has been left untouched, operating exclusively as a tourist attraction. The only decision taken by the Turkish authorities was to open a stretch of beach and place sunbeds on it, as well as to rent bicycles for tours of the town.

It is strange considering all the claims made by the Turkish Cypriots about the town’s development and how it would be turned into the Monte Carlo of the Mediterranean. One theory was that Ankara had bowed to pressure from the international community not to do anything with the town. Another is that Erdogan still believes there could be negotiations for some form of settlement and the return of the town to the Greek Cypriots would be a part of the bargaining process.

An even more far-fetched theory is that the mystery businessman is a fabrication aimed at making Greek Cypriots realise that Varosha would not be waiting forever for their return. Before long Turkey’s threat to develop the town will probably materialise and there will be no difficulty finding investors for such a project. And once this process begins there will be no turning back.

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