The move sparked international criticism.
Cyprus was split in two in 1974 when a Greek government-backed coup faced a Turkish military invasion, and the country was divided between the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot-controlled south.
For years the resort was closed to the public, until the TRNC authorities said they planned to reopen the area.
Nadim Engensoy / AFP
For years, the hugely popular Varosha resort – an abandoned area of Famagusta Old Town – served as a no-go zone between north and south. Entry to the area, which used to attract tourists from all over the world, remained banned from the public.
In August, authorities hinted at plans to open the city, which had more than 12,000 hotel rooms and had 25,000 residents.
Ersin Tatar, prime minister of the unilaterally proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), said Tuesday: “We are starting the process to get people to use the public areas of our land, the plain and demograsi street, the beach. Maras, which used to be like a ghost town, are now coming back to life.”
Referring to the neighborhood by its Turkish name, Tatar said: “God willing, we will start using Maras Beach on Thursday morning with our people.”
A woman waving the Turkish flags and separate Turkish Cypriots took pictures from a police-controlled gate to enter Varosha Beach, an uninhabited and fenced suburb.
Nadim Engensoy / AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported the Tatar plan, saying Tuesday: “The Turkish Cypriot authorities have the right to say here. So in light of this fact, we fully support your decision to open the beautiful Maras Beach for use. From your people as per your roadmap.”
But this step angered the international authorities.
The government of the Republic of Cyprus said on Tuesday that it would protest against “provocative and illegal action” before the United Nations Security Council and the European Union “as an act that violates international law and UN Security Council resolutions.”
The Cypriot government said in a statement:[We] In the strongest terms, it condemns the decision of the occupier of Turkey, and one of its followers in the occupied territories, Ersin Tatar, to extend the entry permit to the coastal front of Forusha, during a pre-election festival they held in Ankara, on the eve of the electoral process for the emergence of a new Turkish Cypriot leader.
People holding separate Turkish and Cypriot flags take pictures of each other on the beach with deserted buildings, in the background, after police opened Varosha Beach on Thursday.
Nadim Engensoy / AFP
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday that Turkey’s decision to extend its entry to Varosha was “a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”
“Greece will support all efforts related to the Republic of Cyprus,” Mitsotakis said in his speech at the awards ceremony in Thessaloniki.
Meanwhile, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the European Union was “extremely concerned” about these announcements.
He warned that the developments “will cause more tensions and may complicate efforts to resume the Cyprus settlement talks.”
A spokesman for António Guterres said the UN Secretary-General was concerned about the announcement of the reopening.
“He indicated that the position of the United Nations on Varosha has not changed and is guided by the relevant Security Council resolutions,” said Secretary-General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Wednesday.
“The Secretary-General stressed the need to avoid any unilateral measures that could provoke tensions on the island and undermine the return to dialogue or the success of talks in the future. He called on all parties to enter into dialogue to resolve their differences, and Dujarric affirmed his readiness to bring the parties together.”
CNN’s Jules Toys and Martin Guillando contributed to this report.
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