Occupied north Cyprus to reopen beach area abandoned since 1974 conflict


Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus will reopen the beach section of the town of Varosha on Thursday, the breakaway state's premier said, referring to a former resort abandoned in no-man's land since a Turkish invasion in 1974 that split the island.

Ersin Tatar, the breakaway state's "premier," made the announcement in Ankara alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who said he backed the decision on Varosha, a former resort abandoned in no-man's land for decades.

The move could weigh on Turkey's row with European Union members Cyprus and Greece over territorial rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. Tensions had eased after Ankara and Athens agreed to resume talks.

"God willing, we will start to use the Maras beach on Thursday morning together with our people," Tatar said, using Varosha's Turkish name. Northern Cyprus is only recognised by Turkey.

The move is likely to anger Greek Cypriots on the Mediterranean island, 39,000 of whom once lived in Varosha before fleeing advancing Turkish forces 46 years ago.

A southern suburb of Famagusta city, Varosha has been empty since the invasion, following a brief Greek-inspired coup, that divided the island into Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides.