Former residents of Varsosha (Maras) will meet to discuss the idea of returning to their former homes in the North, with or without a Cyprus settlement.
The move is being led by Andreas Lordos, recently an unsuccessful candidate for “Mayor” of Famagusta and is being circulated on social media.
“The purpose is to gauge response to this idea, listen to people, and take it from there,” Lordos told the ‘Sunday Mail.’
“We’re tired of 50 years of negotiations with no solution in sight. If we can go back and live in our homes without a settlement, we will.
“We’ve got to make an explicit statement that we don’t accept the status quo,” he adds.
Lordos, who claims to be a reluctant leader of the movement, has suggested that a small number of people could return to their former homes which lie near the Derynia Road, which runs parallel to the fencing outside Maras.
He is hoping that the military and authorities in the North could be convinced to move the fencing back by a few metres, which would allow Greek Cypriots to move into a dozen or so residences in the area.
The group has indicated the neighbourhood around Ayia Zoni church for reoccupation.
After the Turkish army gained control of the land in 1974, the whole area of Maras was fenced off by the Turkish military. Since then, access has been granted to Turkish military and UN personnel only. Locals had hoped to return to their homes when peace was established, but since that time, the area has remained fenced off.
During the 2016 mayoral election campaign, Lordos says he polled around 400 of his supporters, people from Varosha, 30 percent of whom said they wanted to return to live and/or work. Forty percent said they did not, and the remainder were undecided.
Lordos, an architect by profession, explains: “No more of this business of keeping Famagusta as a bargaining chip in the negotiations. The way the negotiations have been set up, it’s been all or nothing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Despite the political situation, returning to the area is feasible, Lordos says. The infrastructure – water and electricity are there.
UN Security Council Resolution 550 of 1984 called for Varosha to be handed over to the administration of the United Nations, and was to be resettled by the its former residents who were forced to leave.
Regarding the legal status of refugees who might return to Varosha without reunification, it is a concern that authorities in the North might give Greek Cypriots permission to return but then have a change of heart. Lordos said he hoped that would not happen.
Asked why spearhead the move now, Lordos (49), said the idea has been gaining support over the past couple of years, as first-generation refugees grow old.
“In a way, it’s either now or never, before we completely lose touch with our land. A few of us, like myself have some memories of Varosha, others not at all.”