Work is underway to change Varosha’s military status to civilian, President Ersin Tatar has said. This will pave the way for the return of properties to their Greek Cypriot owners, he added.
“We are preparing for a legal regulation. The military zone will turn into a civilian zone”, Tatar said on February 12, speaking at a teleconference with the Diplomatic Correspondent’s Association.
“Over time, Varosha will become a region like every other region of the [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] TRNC. There is no legal obstacle to its transition into a civilian zone”, he said.
However, steps towards this end will not be taken immediately because of the presence of a number of safe boxes which are currently locked away in the military zone.
Regarding around 400 safe boxes held in Varosha, which have been held by the military since 1974, Tatar said that the owners of the safe boxes needed to be found first. He added that if they do not present themselves, then the boxes would be warehoused at the TRNC’s largest public bank.
President Tatar also said that it would be preferable to return the properties to the owners rather than use the Immovable Property Commission for the return of their assets.
According to law, the properties within the protection of the military zone in North Cyprus cannot be returned to their owners and the region has to be granted civilian status first before Greek Cypriots can return to the town and take possession of their properties.
Currently infrastructural work for the region is being carried out, Tatar said.