The Turkish Cypriot side will not dispute claims based on international law by former residents of Varosha/Maraş, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said on Friday. Speaking at a press briefing following a conference on Cyprus held in Ankara, he repeated his government’s plans to reopen the fenced-off town of Varosha to settlement over the next ten years, Turkish daily ‘Yeni Şafak’ reported.
Tatar said the Directorate of Foundations-owned [Evkaf] part of town will be reopened for tourism and settlement, and that the Turkish Cypriot side will not dispute claims based on international law by former residents.
Varosha was closed off when it became part of the UN buffer zone in 1984.
Research into archives revealed that properties had been illegally taken from Turkish religious foundations in the 1950s, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said at the same conference.
Prime Minister Tatar said they are determined to make Maraş, the Turkish name for Varosha, a part of the TRNC as part of proactive measures backed by Turkey.
“The audacity of the Greek side and the events in the Eastern Mediterranean give us more enthusiasm”, Tatar said, referring to the ongoing dispute over drilling for offshore gas in the region.
Referring to President Mustafa Akıncı’s efforts to solve the Cyprus problem with President Nicos Anastasiades, Tatar said his government had little enthusiasm for following the same path after all opportunities had been exhausted. The plans to reopen Varosha have emerged because they don’t believe that an agreement can be reached, he said.
“Our model is a velvet divorce,” Tatar said, “Our own state and sovereignty rights, and Turkey’s effective and active guarantee will not be compromised.”
“Those who think that the wealth of the island and the region only belongs to them will face the determination of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots”, Greek daily ‘Kathimerini’ quoted Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as saying in a recorded message at the same conference.
Meanwhile, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Thursday said Turkey had “a clear stance regarding the fair distribution of reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Turkey is as decisive as it was in 1974, the defence minister said, adding, “as a guarantor country we will continue to protect our rights and those of our Turkish Cypriot brothers within the framework of international law.”