TRNC opens Maraş (Varosha) to the public after 46 years

In a historic move, the coastal section of the fenced-off city of Maraş was opened on Thursday afternoon. 

Turkish Cypriot were able to access section of Maraş (Varosha) after the fenced off city was opened to visitors after decades. 

Work on opening the area commenced on Wednesday morning with a gate built next to the Dr Fazıl Küçük Stadium for entry and exit into the town. A portable cabin was also erected next to the gate. 

TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar when speaking during his joint press conference Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday had said that the opening of the seafront was the first concrete step on their road map for Maraş. 

Tatar also said that Maraş was part of the TRNC’s territory and expressed the hope that the entirety of Maraş will be opened for use noting that Turkey was ready to give every kind of support to the TRNC towards that end.  

The objections of the opponent are futile, as there is no possibility for complaints being filed due to the lack of private property [in the area]. As the TRNC grows, it becomes richer and stronger, the chain of sanctions imposed on it will gradually begin to break, Erdoğan said on Tuesday.

The Cyprus Turkish Security Forces announced on Thursday that the section of Maraş opened to the public will be accessible between 9 am and 5 pm. However, entry, for the time being, will only be allowed on foot. 

A statement announced by the Security Forces said that visitors who will be allowed entry through the gate opened next to the Dr Fazıl Küçük stadium will be allowed to walk the designated route on Democracy Avenue

Visitors will also be allowed to access the beach following the designated route. However, entries into the buildings are not allowed due to the poor and risky condition of the structures. Visitors are advised to remain on the road and to follow signs and instructions in place at all times. 

Photography for the exception of recording footage via drones is allowed. It said that the rules will apply until infrastructure work in the area is completed.

Maraş which had been seen as part of a comprehensive solution had been kept closed-off for decades. The issue was put on the table during negotiations in the 1980s and 90s but could not be solved. 

In 1993, the Turkish Cypriot side accepted the opening of Maraş under UN control to be used by both sides in exchange for the opening of the Nicosia International Airport but this proposal was rejected by the Greek Cypriot side. 

Ten years later in 2003, the late TRNC President Rauf Raif Denktaş had proposed to the late Greek Cypriot leader Tasos Papadopoulos to hand over the fenced-off city to the Greek Cypriot administration in exchange for removing all restrictions imposed on the TRNC. Again the Greek Cypriot side turned down this offer. 

A year later, had the UN-sponsored Annan Plan been accepted by the Greek Cypriots, Maraş would have been handed over to Greek Cypriot control. However, the overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots rejected the solution plan thus leaving the matter unresolved. 


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