Retired army commanders and politicians have been asked why the fenced-off city of Maraş/Varosha remains a “forbidden military area” and whether it is necessary for Maraş to remain so for security reasons.
Retired colonel Mustafa Kemal Tumkan argued that Maraş’ security value should be reassessed by the UN and parliament and that the army’s powers could be decreased by law. He said that the situation in the fenced-off city is not only in the hands of the Turkish army and the TRNC assembly and that this is a necessity required by the cease fire agreement signed in 1974. He said that the Turkish side could ask the UNFICYP whether the security conditions provided for in 1974-75 are valid in the current situation.
Retired colonel Mehmet Volkan Celebioglu expressed the view that Maraş/Varosha does not have great importance from the military point of view and that strategically it is not a very important area. “The fact that it has not been opened for so long is saddening. […] Maraş’ control should be in our hands and I think that it would be useful to open it and the community to be benefited”, he said.
Former chairman of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and former TRNC prime minister, Ferdi Sabit Soyer said that the ban which exists today on Maraş is based on laws but it is unethical. He added added that the Cyprus negotiations should resume the soonest and the issue should be discussed “in a calmer manner” within this framework. Soyer argued that firstly, the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots and the UN should carry out a joint feasibility study for Maraş and depending on this study, bring onto the agenda “any kind of alternatives” for the city.