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An abandoned seaside town in Cyprus is about to reopen (messynessychic.com)
119 points by tomcam 50 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments



While Erdogan is behind the wheel, Turkey will keep suffering his power-plays. Its very unfortunate that he doesn't want any conflict resolution, just power games (don't forget blocking social media sites in Turkey etc). I have a feeling that Turks do want to progress and be part of the westernized world but he is keeping them behind. A week ago he converted a highly valuable world heritage monument into a mosque knowing it will damage his relationships with Europe. Reopening Famagusta is only gonna make things worse.

Generally speaking the area has been conflicted from all sides, e.g Israel-Palestine etc, and it feels like noone really wants to fix things up and let the area heal for generations to come? I mean come on people we are in 2020 and we act like we are 70 years ago... we should be thinking out of the box.

Although I am biased on this subject as I legally own land that I can't use or visit in Famagusta, I thought I'd share my opinion.


My Turkish friends tell me that Turkey is divided between the ultra-conservative, iisolationist nationalists m that Erdoğan appeals to, and the more liberal people who don't like any of this at all.

A friend of mine has told me that the only way he'll return to Turkey is to attend Erdoğan's funeral. I sympathize with him, he's as sad about the current situation as I am (though from the other side).


What side are you from?


I think from the name he is sad from the Greek side?


That is correct.


Erdogan is applying the same strategy used by Russia, in that he's keen to always push as far as the International Community is willing to tolerate. And they're apparently willing to tolerate a lot, because Turkey possesses immense geostrategic leverage, and he knows this. Other regimes that like to push against the grain, like in Poland and Hungary, wish they were as relevant as Turkey.

This sort of act is one where a couple western countries throw out some sanctions against some state-adjacent figures, but nothing too severe; then in a few years, those sanctions quietly go away during an effort to "normalize" relations.


70 years ago the post-Ottoman Middle East began to unite under a pan-Arabist identity (the brainchild of diaspora Greeks, funny enough).

The progressive West spent the next 70 years ensuring that identity never took hold.

Specifically on Turkey, the West more or less gave Erdogan the green light for expansion by 1) installing a neutered puppet government in Northern Iraq that is unable to control its borders and 2) supporting anti-Turkish militias against the Syrian government and as a direct consequence set the scene for Turkey to begin occupation. So it’s hardly surprising he begins to flirt a bit more with Cyprus as well.


I'd like to see the source on diaspora Greeks please.


probably referring to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurji_Zaydan who was an orthodox christian, but lebanese, not greek


Politics aside, Famagusta is quite fascinating. There are relatively few recent photos online, mainly due to the army presence and "shoot on sight" warnings.

Never the less, I visited a few years ago. Very strange to see in real life the "nature takes over the cities" so often imagined in films.

http://www.ninjito.com/_2015-04-14-Varosha


That would indeed be amazing to see, such a time capsule. They should really make it a museum. The world doesn't need another beach resort, but a view on the past would be amazing.

I see you even slept there! Did you have someone keeping watch? It must have been a once in a lifetime trip!

Do they really shoot on sight? I really doubt that. But I'm sure you'd have a really uncomfortable time at a Turkish police station when caught.


There is significant military presence around and inside the base, regular patrols, watch towers, cameras and IR walls. Not sure if they shoot on sight, because we managed to avoid being seen. I imagine that it's less important strategically now than before, but it was definitely one of the more stressful infiltrations.


How did you manage to visit? I love abandoned cities and would like to see it, but would slightly prefer to not get shot.


I was in the area last year. You can take a taxi from the Greek side and they will give you a tour of the new city and an archaeological site. The driver was originally from a village not far from there and knew the parts. I doubt you can go in the old parts (there are fences, roadblocks and guards) but there’s a beach from which you have a good view. The closest buildings are only a few meters away. I didn’t take any photos. As a Greek I was a little apprehensive of going there, but most of my Cypriot friends have no problems visiting or driving through the occupied parts.


There's the town and new city, and the closed part. We were in the closed part. Honestly, the beach view is fairly representative of what is inside (so unless you a highly motivated, the trip inside might not be worth the risk)


Turkey-EU relationship are at freezing point. This is not reopening, but anexation of neutral zone.


It's pretty obvious that Turkey should never be allowed in the EU.

And then Erdogan wonders why, lol.

Fyi: I do some business with Turkish people. I just don't trust Erdogan.


I'm sure he's perfectly aware that Turkey isn't going to join the EU, which is why he feels like he has nothing to lose with these actions.


About 15% of Turkey's exports are to the EU, and over two-thirds of their tourists.

Turkish industry heavily utilizes EU financial and consulting services.

Turkey also benefits from various infrastructural and knowledge-sharing schemes supplied by the EU.

So, quite a lot to lose.


I meant regarding the possibility of joining the EU, that ship has sailed. I guess he feels that the EU needs Turkey more than the other way around?


Well, whatever he thought, Covid-19 has blown everyone's plans wide open.

Erdogan has to somehow keep his deeply indebted country rolling and his population of 82 million employed. It seems foolish to start picking fights with his biggest trading partner but, who knows, perhaps this is the sort of distraction that will keep his population focused on nationalism.


Hey, I completely agree with you, I'm just theorizing on what his thought process might be.


He seems to be feeding his nationalistic sheeple by strenghtening the reliegious ethos with such moves as turning Hagia Sofia into a Mosque and taking over this neutral territory which was in limbo for a really long time. Erdogan has nothing else to show his supporters rather than Turkey is becoming strong again, some sort of Turkish version of MAGA. The Turks who don’t support Erdogan are powerless at the moment. Only economic disaster will weaken his grip on power there. Similar to Erdogan we have Viktor Orban in Hungary and many others in the making. Hopefully once Trump is out other totalitarian dictators will follow suit


Everything you say is correct, but Erdogan predated MAGA. It is Trump that emulates the fascism and jingoistic populism of Erdogan. They are made from the same cloth.


Nato needs turkey.


Why?

Turkey needs NATO more than the other way around


(a) Bosporus

(b) the nukes (İncirlik)

As to who needs whom more, I have no opinion.


Idiotic move, driven by Turkish nationalism, that hands a massive PR win to the Cypriots and is likely to result in a significant backlash against Turkish tourism in general.

Pre-Covid, Turkey's tourist industry had been rapidly expanding. By 2019, Turkey was the world's sixth most popular destination, with over 51 million tourists. That's a lot of jobs, a lot of cash for a developing nation with low levels of education and skills.

The fact that their newly opened Istanbul Airport will, once completed, have an annual capacity of 200 million passengers indicates Turkey's ambition was to keep their tourist industry growing as fast as possible.

The national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, with 315 scheduled destinations, was the largest mainline carrier in the world by number of passenger destinations. That's a lot of planes that are currently mostly grounded.

Now, just as the entire global tourist industry lies in tatters, the Turks are going to dredge up bad memories and alienate the valuable European market by moving aggressively against Cyprus, an EU member. Are German and Swedish tourists really going to ignore that and book their winter escapes in Turkey?

All that Turkey gains is a good but relatively small site for a tourist city, one that has to be demolished and built again from scratch. That massive investment, made in direct defiance of United Nations rules, could all be lost if they do end up having to hand that disputed territory back to the original occupants.

It is all so needlessly stupid, running directly counter to the long-term interests of Turkey as a whole. This is a good example of why "strong leaders" are not such a hot idea. The generals running Thailand, another country massively dependent upon tourism, are an example of the same thing. Even before Covid-19 came along, they were needlessly whipping up anti-Western sentiment, overcomplicating their visa rules, and pretending that tourism was no longer a significant part of "Thailand 4.0". Now that roughly a quarter of their economy has disappeared, they have to somehow do a 360 without admitting they made a mistake and losing face.


I think you're seriously exaggerating the extent to which the average cheap Turkish resort package tourist cares. The area has already been occupied by Turkey for decades, whether they're building there or letting it rot is not particularly consequential (unless you have pre-invasion property claims, of course).


It was not left unoccupied for almost half a century by mistake. There was an actual UN resolution that ruled it could only be resettled by the original inhabitants. Tearing down those homes and building over them will be deeply consequential. It will make Turkey an international pariah and raise questions about other issues, such as their treatment of their Kurd minority.

For your cheap package tourist, money and convenience matter even if ethics do not. The international embargo means no direct flights from anywhere other than Turkey, so, your package tourist would be looking at significant additional travel time and expense.

Then you have infrastructure. The south of the island received significant grants and subsidies from the EU, had plenty of foreign investment, a thriving tourist industry, and a tourist-oriented population that can mostly speak English. The north was isolated, unable to export, and almost entirely dependent on meagre support from Turkey, meaning that the north fell far behind.

So, your package tourist will have fewer comforts, fewer food choices, and would be served by inexperienced staff with little English. The TripAdvisor reviews will be painful.

For the next decade or so, the supply of tourist accommodation all over the world is going to wildly exceed demand. The established destinations, with experienced operators, established reputations, and direct flights are going to utterly dominate a cut-throat market. The main Turkish tourist industry will, of course, survive but this self-inflicted damage to its reputation will make it harder than it could have been.


> It will make Turkey an international pariah and raise questions about other issues, such as their treatment of their Kurd minority.

Like how Israel became an international pariah for resettlements in the West Bank?


> Tearing down those homes and building over them will be deeply consequential. It will make Turkey an international pariah and raise questions about other issues, such as their treatment of their Kurd minority.

The world has far bigger issues to deal with and Erdogan know it. I don't expect to see any significant international pushback.


If my government marks Turkey as a no-go zone due to escalation of tensions, I can't have travel insurance whilst in the country. Therefore, it's either a big risk to be their or it gets skipped over.

Something the cheap Turkish resort package tourist cares about when their luggage doesn't show up at IST.

Edit: Something worth noting, the Eastern side of Turkey within a few hundred kms of the Syrian border is already a no-go zone.


That's a very big if, since it is exceedingly unlikely that Greece, much less Cyprus, would attempt an invasion of mainland Turkey. (Among other things, Turkey is 8x larger.)

I happen to know an EU diplomat, who has (undiplomatically) shared that letting Cyprus into the EU without using this as a cudgel to sort out the issue is widely viewed as a huge mistake. They're heartily sick of the problem, so the likeliest outcome here is that the EU issues a communique expressing deep concern over Turkey's actions and reiterating its commitment to a peaceful solution, which will have the same effect as all its other communiques about the same issue over the years. (Which is to say, nil.)


Neither aunty_helen nor anyone else is suggesting an invasion of Turkey. They don't need to. Turkey's move towards isolationism is going to do more damage than any invasion could.

It does not matter if some unnamed EU diplomat thinks that letting Cyprus into the EU was a mistake. They have been a full member for 16 years now. That diplomat works for them. They are a participant in the world's biggest economy and federation of nations.

Turkey, meanwhile, under Erdogan, has been rapidly burning bridges and has become a real embarrassment to NATO. Everyone, on both sides, knows they are only kept in because the US needs somewhere to fly its planes into the Middle East.

20 years ago, just a few years before Erdogan became Prime Minister, Turkey was officially recognized as a candidate for full membership of the EU. It would have been the most populous nation in the EU, with its youthful citizens doubtless making a big impact on the evolving face of Europe. The future was bright.

Today, you would struggle to find an EU diplomat who believes that there is now any possibility of Turkey ever being accepted into the EU. Indeed, if Turkey does launch a military attack upon drilling operations within internationally recognized Cypriot waters, the most likely result will be a complete EU boycott on Turkish goods and a travel block. Again, they don't need to invade.


Turkey would never have been admitted into the EU. Not with prevously Ottoman occupied nations being part of the EU having a say about it, Greece included. Edrogan's neo-ottomanism only makes things even worse.

The US was right to cut them off the F35 program after Edrogan's rocket deal with Russia. They're probably not far off to being kicked out of Nato altogether.


> They're heartily sick of the problem

Though apparently not sick enough to do something about it.


We hosted a greek/turk summit a few years back. The parties themselves are not sick enough to do anything about it. You can lead a horticulture, and all that.


> Are German and Swedish tourists really going to ignore that and book their winter escapes in Turkey?

Yes, yes they are, the same way they've always done.

Political issues count almost zero for the average tourist, and governments are not going to block flights or anything, just like they didn't do it when Russia invaded ucraine.


Turkey is still on EU's travel ban list despite been in a better shape wrt COVID-19 than other countries and some EU members. The move is seen to be at least in part political.


Have you been following the ridiculous Maritime EZ claims from the Greek nationalists? This is just a bargaining chip on the table.


No, I had not been following it, interesting, thank you for drawing my attention to it.

Based on the relevant Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyprus%E2%80%93Turkey_maritime...) and a few other sources I briefly looked over, it appears that the nub of the argument is that, due to a different, earlier dispute with Greece, Turkey was one of only 15 countries (including Venezuela, Eritrea, South Sudan, and Kyrgyzstan) that refused to sign UNCLOS, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Under international law, Cyprus has a right to certain areas of sea around its internationally recognized territory. All 167 countries who signed UNCLOS agree with the principle of territorial waters.

Turkey's invasion and annexation of the north of the island was against international rules at the time and has never been recognized as legal by any other country. Even today, Turkey is the only country which recognizes Northern Cyprus.

Now that gas deposits have been discovered in Cypriot waters, the Turks have threatened military action against any equipment installed to extract that gas. No other country believes that this would be anything other than an illegal interference in another country's territory.

Again, I do not see how this strong man nationalism and isolationism is helping the Turkish people. If Turkey had not invaded Cyprus in 1974 it would probably have become a full member of the EU by the late 1980's, shortly after Greece. That would, I believe, have been of great benefit to the Turkish economy and the Turkish people, including better human rights and better relations with neighboring countries.


It is obvious that you like to read and know many things. Please research the reasons of the invasion. Innocent people and families (babies included) were killed by force, people were massacred. You can find pictures online, not that hard. You can still see the bullet holes in houses and bathtubs in Turkish houses.

I was personally sorry to see this phrase "If Turkey had not invaded Cyprus.." Being a full member is definitely not a choice when compared to dying citizens. These are all theories.

I also think that a country with Muslim majority and Ottoman background would never be accepted in European Union.


UNCLOS is problematic when it comes to islands, disputes are usually solved on 1-1 agreements between countries or not solved like South China Sea. Google "Kastellorizo", a small island between Rhodes and Cyprus. Greece claims EZ on almost all the waters between Cyprus and Rhodes because of these 3 small islands.

Cyprus should not have been admitted to EU before accepting the Annan plan, unfortunately they were and now the last generation of Cypriot Turks and Greeks are getting old a solution is still far away..

Countries have no problem recognizing "British Overseas Territories" scattered around the world, conveniently 2 large town sized military bases in Cyprus, but when it comes to a less powerful country like Turkey using military power, this is reason for international isolation. Erdogan is taking it way too far now but it's been like this before him too. It's ruthless out there.


> UNCLOS is problematic when it comes to islands

No, it really is not. It is exactly how 167 countries have agreed that maritime territory should be allocated. China's island-making shenanigans in the South China Sea are merely an attempt to hack that agreed standard.

What is problematic is Turkey's unique claim that islands should only be entitled to a 12 nautical mile territory rather than the usual 200 that Turkey and other countries are entitled to. Highly convenient for a country with lots of nearby islands inhabited by other people.

> Cyprus should not have been admitted to EU before accepting the Annan plan

The invasion was illegal by any internationally accepted standard. Therefore, the invaded people were under no obligation to accept any compromise. They democratically rejected it. It would have been against the core principles of the EU to withhold membership until they voted "the right way".

Delaying Turkey membership on the basis of invading other countries, or its human rights record, is different. That is about getting them to align with those principles before joining. Ultimately, the government of Turkey decided that their own principles were better aligned to the fast-growing nations of the Middle-East.


Colonization was an internationally accepted standard doesn't mean it was fair.

Turkey and Ottoman Empire before her, was forced to sign many deals that hindered her development and let European counties pillage all the resources, this is just another one.


On the other hand, Turkey claims that islands don't count, even when they've been inhabited by Greeks for millennia. Kastelorizo isn't some rock, it's an actual inhabited island and tourist destination. Might as well argue that Crete doesn't count towards an EEZ.


> Might as well argue that Crete doesn't count towards an EEZ.

This is more or less what they did with their maritime deal with Libya's GNA [1]

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya%E2%80%93Turkey_maritim...


And Rhodes is right out. Yay.


Well mainland Turkey is also inhabited by Greeks for a millennia they all converted to another religion and not called Greeks anymore. I don't think we can decide what's right and what's wrong by trying to analyze flimsy political identities.


We can't decide what's right and what's wrong with any criteria, except for all the criteria.


> Varosha fell victim to the ongoing war between the Greeks and the Turks

Which war was that? The article is trying to paint the invasion as some sort of military advancement during wartime, when it was a completely sudden invasion of another country.


There were ongoing internal conflicts going back to the 50s and 60s with atrocities from both sides. I don’t know if you’d call it war, but it did eventually lead to the invasion.

Check “Cypriot intercommunal violence” on Wikipedia.


Some backstory: After last week fiasco, where the Greek navy fleet, forced them to "postpone" their seismographic research south of Crete (Greek territorial waters), they're back at their usual, bullying the weakest kid. Really sad.


Its inhabitants fled during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, when the city of Famagusta came under Turkish control, and it has remained abandoned ever since https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varosha,_Famagusta


Varosha is used as an example in Alan Weisman's fascinating book Without Us, which explains what would happen to the world and all we've built and done to it if humans disappeared.


Erdogan is probably looking at the expansionism of China in the South China Sea and the weak response from the U.S. (and others,) and thinks he can do the same thing in the Med.


It's not a new thing, and it's not Erdogan, they've occupied parts of Cyprus for almost 50 years. It's pretty normal Turkish policy, and they know they can get away with it. Strong communities inside Europe (in exchange for aligning with NATO) and controlling the flow of migrants that Europe doesn't want but doesn't have the courage to say so are strong bargaining chips.


a very informative article on the times us Cypriots didn't do the extra step to reclaim the city, https://politis.com.cy/apopseis/oi-epta-fores-poy-arnithikam... (it's in greek).


If a drone pilot flew a drone in would they find and kill the pilot?




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