By KEREM HASAN
WORK aimed at reconnecting electricity to the fenced-off area of Maraş (Varosha) will start within days, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Kudret Özersay has said, as media were allowed into the “ghost town” for the first time in 27 years – Cyprus Today among them.
The visit by the select group of around 40 journalists, photographers and camera crews became news in itself, sparking a backlash from South Cyprus and some TRNC figures.
It was organised by officials at Dr Özersay’s ministry, keen to demonstrate the “truth” about the situation in Maraş, part of Gazimağusa.
Closed Maraş, while within the boundaries of the TRNC, is a military zone and has been cut off to civilians since 1974 and seen as a “bargaining chip” in peace talks with the Greek Cypriot side.
Journalists were last allowed into the area in 1992, when Cyprus Today was also part of the group.
Maraş was once the island’s premier holiday destination and said to have been frequented by Hollywood stars.
A 1984 United Nations Security Council resolution called for it to be handed over to UN control and condemned attempts to settle any part of it “by people other than its inhabitants”.
In June Dr Özersay announced that a “scientific inventory” of the area would be undertaken with a view to reopening it to resettlement.
The decision reignited a row over property ownership rights, with Greek Cypriots claiming the land and property belongs to them, while the TRNC’s Evkaf religious foundation insists it still holds the deeds to much of the territory.
During Thursday’s trip Dr Özersay, acting as tour guide for the day, said it was no longer “reasonable or logical” for Maraş to remain “frozen in time” in the 21st century.
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