Northern Cyprus set to reopen Cypriot ghost town on cease-fire lines

Northern Cyprus set to reopen Cypriot ghost town on cease-fire lines
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People gaze at Varosha, a former resort area fenced off by the Turkish military since the 1974 division of Cyprus, as they walk on a beach in Famagusta, August 5, 2019. (Reuters)
Northern Cyprus set to reopen Cypriot ghost town on cease-fire lines
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The fenced-off area of Varosha, restricted by the Turkish military, is seen from the Dherynia checkpoint, Cyprus, November 12, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 October 2020

Northern Cyprus set to reopen Cypriot ghost town on cease-fire lines

Northern Cyprus set to reopen Cypriot ghost town on cease-fire lines
  • Turkish Cypriot PM Ersin Tatar said the revival of Varosha, now an eerie collection of derelict hotels, churches and residences, would bring trade and tourism benefits
  • The move is likely to anger Greek Cypriots, 39,000 of whom once lived in Varosha before fleeing advancing Turkish forces 46 years ago

ANKARA: Northern Cyprus is almost ready to begin reopening the town of Varosha, the breakaway state’s premier said on Friday, a former resort area fenced off and abandoned in no-man’s land since a 1974 Turkish invasion that split the island.
Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said the revival of Varosha, now an eerie collection of derelict hotels, churches and residences, would bring trade and tourism benefits.
The move is likely to anger Greek Cypriots, 39,000 of whom once lived in Varosha before fleeing advancing Turkish forces 46 years ago, and stoke tensions between the two sides.
Varosha, a southern suburb of the city of Famagusta, has been a ghost town since the invasion, following a brief Greek-inspired coup, that partitioned the eastern Mediterranean island along cease-fire lines into Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides.
The former holiday resort has been off limits to all but the Turkish military since 1974.
Varosha has become a bargaining chip in the decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Ringed by a fence extending into the sea, the town is overrun by cacti and debris.
“Varosha is most definitely going to be opened. The tide has shifted, a new page has been turned,” Tatar said. (Northern Cyprus) will become stronger by opening Varosha to tourism.”
Tatar gave no specific time line for reopening Varosha.
“Varosha lies within TRNC territory,” he said, referring to Northern Cyprus, recognized as a state only by Turkey. “Nobody can take it from us. We are successfully continuing on our path. The inventory work is almost complete, we are in the opening phase.”
In February, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials visited Varosha, marking one of the most concrete steps by either side toward reviving the ghost town.
The island’s Greek Cypriots live mainly in the south, a republic that is in the European Union. Several peacemaking efforts have made no significant progress and the discovery of offshore energy resources has complicated the picture further.


UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March

UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March
Updated 17 January 2021

UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March

UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the elderly, including care home residents, the clinically vulnerable and frontline workers

LONDON: Britain’s government hopes it can meet its target for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and be able to consider easing lockdown restrictions by March, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday.
The country, which has Europe’s highest COVID-19 death toll, has been under a national lockdown since Jan. 5, when schools were closed for most pupils, non-essential businesses were shut to the public, and people were ordered to work from home where possible.
“What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible,” Raab told Sky News television.
“By early spring, hopefully by March, we’ll be in a position to make those decisions. I think it’s right to say we won’t do it all in one big bang. As we phase out the national lockdown, I think we’ll end up phasing through a tiered approach.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the elderly, including care home residents, the clinically vulnerable and frontline workers — or roughly more than 13 million people — by mid-February.
If all goes smoothly, he has said that England can consider easing lockdown restrictions from that time.
The Sunday Times newspaper said British ministers had reached a deal to approve a three-point plan that could lead to some lockdown restrictions being lifted as soon as early March.
Areas will have restrictions eased once their death rate has fallen, the number of hospital admissions drops and some people aged between 50 and 70 are vaccinated, the newspaper said.
The Sunday Times quoted cabinet ministers as saying they were prepared to resist pressure from health advisers to delay the changes until most people are vaccinated, a process that would take until the summer at least.
“For the first time there are no significant divisions between hawks and doves in the cabinet,” a cabinet source told the newspaper. “Everyone accepted that we need to lock down hard and everyone accepts that we need to open up before everyone is vaccinated.”
A spokesman in Johnson’s office declined to comment on the report.