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US presses Turkey to let inspectors access Varosha

14 April 2014

As speculation on the condition and the cost of re-building the ghost town of Varosha/Maras mounts, Washington is pressing Turkey to allow experts funded by the US, to carry out investigations into how it can be transformed into a liveable eco-friendly resort.

But the Turkish Cypriot side continues to raise conditions that cannot be met, insiders told ‘Phileleftheros’ daily on Saturday.

“They won’t even allow the experts funded exclusively by the US to get in and start the project which will take at least six to nine months to be completed, anyway,” one source said.

“They want to get conditions met first, and their conditions seem to always lead to the same unacceptable demand for recognition (of the TRNC),” added the inside source.

One of the TRNC’s demands is that Famagusta port comes under its control once it opens, and not under the European Union’s as proposed by President Anastasiades.

Also, as regards Ercan airport, Nicosia agrees to its full operation but on condition that it is under the control of Cyprus Republic’s flight information region (FIR), except for the last 20 kilometres when it would be under Turkish Cypriot guidance and this is due to safety reasons and a standard procedure for most regional airports.

Anastasiades insists on the immediate return of Famagusta to its former Greek Cypriot inhabitants and for it to be re-opened under UN and EU control. He argues that this is a confidence-building measure that will definitely invigorate the recently re-launched UN-brokered negotiations to reunite the island. In response, President Eroglu has said land returns should come at the end of a successful negotiation process and not as a precursor.

A master plan on the re-opening of the port city – whose infrastructure has crumbled over the years – was drafted by the South’s Technical Chamber a few years ago. But technocrats agree that the Chamber’s master plan would need to be updated.

Nonetheless, the Chamber has been kept completely in the dark when it comes to this new initiative by the US, informed sources said.

“A group of US experts were on the island recently, visiting Famagusta and holding workshops but that’s all we know, the Chamber was not asked to contribute with ideas or relevant information,” Phileleftheros quoted the source as saying.

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