The coastline of the abandoned town of Maras (Varosha) in the Turkish Cypriot city of Gazimagusa will reopen on Thursday, the prime minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) announced Tuesday.
The coastline of Maras will be open for public use as of Thursday morning, Ersin Tatar said in a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara.
"Maras issue is a national cause above all political competitions and debates," Tatar said.
"It is a fact that Maras is a TRNC territory. We fully support the decision to make Maras's coastline available to the public," Erdogan said.
Turkey is also ready to support the Turkish Cypriot administration to fully open the town of Maras, Erdogan stressed.
The TRNC had announced the opening of Maras to tourists in 2019.
Closed Maras is a ghost city where entry is forbidden, with the exception of the Turkish army personnel.
Maras used to be one of the favourite hangouts for major celebrities including Hollywood heartthrobs such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Burton and Brigitte Bardot.
Located in the southern part of the city of Gazimagusa (Famagusta), Maras had 45 hotels with a 10,000 capacity, 60 apartment hotels, 3,000 trade entities, 99 entertainment venues, and 21 banks, as well as 24 theaters, 25 museums and 4,649 private houses before it became a ghost city. It also had a medium-sized library with 8,500 books, which were in English, Greek and Turkish.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded.
Maras has always been an important aspect of the Cyprus issue. In 1994, Cypriot Turks and Greeks discussed opening Maras to settlements in exchange for both sides using Lefkosa (Nicosia) International Airport as part of confidence building measures. But the talks eventually failed.
For more than 50 years, both Turkish and Greek Cypriots have negotiated with each other for a federation based on political equation with two communities and two regions, but they could not reach a concrete resolution because the Greek side does not want to share the island’s power and wealth with Cypriot Turks.