A former jewel of the east coast of Cyprus, Varosha is nothing more than a vast area of ruined buildings, a symbol of the division of the island.
The old seaside resort belongs to the agglomeration of Famagusta. It has been isolated since the Turkish invasion of 1974. Once a hotspot for international tourism, it is now a military zone under the control of Ankara.
Its inhabitants, Greek-Cypriots, had to leave to escape war more than four decades ago. Despite a UN resolution, which grants them the right of return, the Turkish government has kept Varosha closed, a means of pressure on the Cyprus issue.
“_47 years ago, the inhabitants of this isolated suburb of Famagusta were violently driven from their homes and the land of their ancestors. Since then, neither the Greek Cypriots nor the Turkish Cypriots have set foot in this place. Today, the Turkish president is visiting Varosha, where he plans to announce important decisions, and the inhabitants see their hopes of regaining their properties fade away, “says our correspondent _Efi Koutsokosta.
In what was once an idyllic landscape, time seems frozen. Many buildings are threatening to collapse. A painful spectacle for locals like Pavlos Iacovou. His family had owned a hotel here since 1948, but he had to flee in 1974.
“It hurts to come back here as a tourist. I have to apply for permission to visit my busy hometown. Everything hurts me like having to show an ID card to go to the beach where I grew up “, he testifies.
Nikos Karoulas was 12 when his family had to leave Varosha. Today he lives in the dream of a reunified country. “I think it is utopian to hope that things will go back to how they were before. What is tragic is that the inhabitants have been left to fend for themselves “, he said.
Nikos shows us around the waterfront, where he meets an old friend, Turkish Cypriot, Hasan. The latter said he hoped that the two communities of Cyprus could build together a common and peaceful future.
In October 2020, the Turkish Cypriot authorities woke up the sleeping beauty by reopening a small part of the city to tourists. This Tuesday the Turkish president, during his visit could announce the reopening of new parts of the city.
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