In the aftermath of the failed talks to reunify Cyprus earlier in the month, Turkey is, according to sources, activating its Plan B in a bid to upgrade the occupied north’s international status.
According to unconfirmed reports, Turkey’s diplomatic and military authorities have already received instructions to prepare for new initiatives, which include plans to open up the fenced-off ghost town of Varosha – an abandoned southern quarter of the city of Famagusta in the island’s occupied north – and allow the return of thousand of Greek-Cypriot refugees, albeit under Turkish-Cypriot authority.
Last week, Turkish Cypriots announced that members of the island’s Maronite community can return to their villages in the north and live under under Turkish Cypriot administration. A Turkish-Cypriot committee is reportedly making the necessary preparations.
A source told Kathimerini that the decision regarding the Maronites could serve as a model for Varosha.
In addition, Ankara is also reportedly mulling changes to the immovable property commission (IPC) it set up to deal with Greek-Cypriot claims for compensation for their occupied properties. Among Ankara’s aims is to make the committee, which has so far proved ineffective, more attractive to Greek-Cypriot owners.
With regards to the island’s natural gas resources, the north’s so-called energy minister told Kathimerini that Turkey is planning to install a drilling platform off Karpasia. At the same time, the Turkish research vessel Barbarosa is set to sail for Morfou to begin a new round of exploration.