Ankara is planning to open the fenced-off quarter of Varosha in the Turkish-occupied “ghost town” of Famagusta in Cyprus, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavugoslu said on Thursday.

“Preparations are being made. Maras will open,” he told CNN Turk in an interview, in translated comments, using the area’s Turkish name.

Last June, the administration in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus had also announced its intention to open Varosha, which is protected by a 1984 UN Security Council resolution, stating that the the empty town can only be resettled by its original inhabitants.

Varosha was a famous tourist area with a population of about 39,000 who fled in 1974 when the Turkish army invaded the island. It has remained closed off ever since.

Asked by CNN Turk about Turkey’s controversial exploration for hydrocarbon deposits in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, meanwhile, Cavusoglu said that no one can “prevent” its continued efforts, adding that Ankara will “defend” the rights of the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus.


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