THE GHOST TOWN VAROSHA - A BUSINESS CARD ...
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Varosha is, perhaps, one of the most controversial sights of Northern Cyprus. The pictures of abandoned houses, hotels, streets and beaches together with the postcards of fashionable resort life almost half a century ago, on the contrast, stir the minds of tourists. The numerous reports of the eyewitnesses in the internet raise more questions than answers: what is it and why is it protected?
Unfortunately, the tourist guides of Southern Cyprus represent Varosha to the tourists almost as a visiting card of their northern neighbor (moreover, they say, that the negligent neighbors don’t even guess to build a park of attractions for the tourists). However, such a view of Varosha is as much absurd as, for example, in the case if to call the Chernobyl exclusion zone a business card of Belarus or Ukraine. The popularity of any abandoned territory among the extreme sports lovers is understandable – it looks as if the desolate landscapes and the live scenery for the movies about the victory of nature over civilization have descended from the pages of fantastic literature. But the other side of the situations is also obvious. First, Varosha has nothing to do with the current state of infrastructure and the development of the economy of Northern Cyprus. Anyone who wants to be convinced of this today, can visit Northern Cyprus, it is not a problem today to cross the border (the so-called Green Zone). Secondly, this territory is not for entertainment - its historical status is completely different.
Today, Varosha is highly demanded for touristic business only by one side of Cyprus - the Southern one. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why the Greek point of view on the 1974 conflict prevails in the information field. At the same time, as one Yugoslav tourist remarked at the Cypriot forum, "one who was an eyewitness of any interethnic conflict knows perfectly well that it is impossible to build a reliable picture, based on the point of view of only one of the parties."
To begin with, Varosha is not a city, but only a part of the city of Famagusta. In this area, nobody has been really living since the Cyprus conflict. In 1974, as a result of a military coup (initiated by the radical national Greek forces) in the unified at that time Cyprus, this area, together with Famagusta, fell under the control of the Turkish Cypriots. The territory of Varosha was fenced, and since then it has been guarded by NATO forces and the Turkish Army.
Without going into the detailed description of the events of the Cyprus conflict, we note only the most often distorted fact - namely, the legality of the introduction of the Turkish Military Forces on the island. Entering the troops, Turkey was guided by the Treaty of 1960 (when the island gained its independence from Britain) about the guarantee of the existence of independent Cyprus, signed by Britain, Greece and Turkey. It was this agreement, as well as the consent of the guarantor countries, that gave the right to protect the representatives of the communities living on the island.
However, let's return to the modern Varosha. Why should it be protected? Without getting of any profit from the curious tourists who are satisfied with a viewing platform and binoculars from the balcony of the nearby house of an enterprising South Cypriot.
The special status of this temporarily uninhabited territory was to be abolished in the process of unification of Cyprus after the end of hostilities. But the issue of negotiations dragged on for many years. During this time, many steps have been taken to resolve the consequences of the division of the island. For example, all Greek settlers received compensation for their property, left in the North of the island. Currently, any emerging issue of the land and real estate rights (obviously, this is a secondary real estate, which has been built before 1974) is considered by the independent court in the green buffer zone in Nicosia under the chairmanship of the independent judge (who can not be a Cypriot of any of the communities).
The cornerstone of the unification of Cyprus today is the form of a unified state. The proposal of Northern Cyprus - the federation - was rejected by the Greek side at the last tripartite meeting under the auspices of the UN in 2017. Having not received an alternative solution to the issue, the talks once again reached a deadlock.
According to the comments of the international observers, there are several grounds for a federation in the united Cyprus. First, for more than 400 years, the two ethnic groups, living on the same island, did not become a single people as, for example, in the United States. Today, in fact, the island is divided territorially, nationally and on the basis of faith. In addition, before the conflict, each national community enjoyed the separate rights in the field of self-government, education, courts, etc.
At the same time, according to the British law, which, by the way, operates on both sides of Cyprus, both South and North, the state that has been existing for more than 50 years is automatically considered to be held.
Returning to the title, most likely, Varosha can be called a business card of the unreached agreements between the two ethnic groups. But sooner or later, this issue will be resolved. And the infamous landmark will cease to be so.
In the meantime, it's better to see once than to read a hundred times - we invite you to our Inspection Trip of Northern Cyprus. Make your own personal opinion about this paradise of the Eastern Mediterranean!
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