MERSIN, Turkey

The town of Maras in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which was partially reopened to the public in 2020 after 47 years, has attracted nearly 200,000 visitors, the country’s president said Tuesday. 

Ersin Tatar told reporters in Turkey’s Mersin province that the reopening of Maras brought innovation and expansion to the city of Gazimagusa.

Maras is located in the southern part of the city.

Tatar said the economic and tourism potential of the town, also known as Varosha, would benefit the country.

Partially opened on Oct. 8, 2020 after remaining a “ghost town” for decades in the wake of Turkey’s 1974 peace operation on the island in response to a coup aimed at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Maras has attracted both people living in the TRNC as well as foreign tourists, with the environment and landscape around the town also boosting its appeal.

Regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, Tatar said they have taken steps towards the development and strengthening of the TRNC.

He added that they act together with Turkey on their rights in the region.

“Turkey is both our homeland, our guarantor country, and the largest and most powerful country in this region,” he said.

“Our dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean will strengthen both Turkey and the TRNC,” he added.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the island was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the UK. The TRNC was founded in 1983.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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