According to the newspaper “Telegraph”, the Turkish enclave of Cyprus has announced proposals for a series of glamorous new resorts and shopping arcades in a move which risks straining relations with the south.
The centrepiece of events to mark “Peace and Freedom Day” will be the opening of a £150 million hotel and casino complex by President Dervis Eroglu. The Cratos Premium resort ignited worldwide controversy after booking Jennifer Lopez to perform at its launch. The American singer was forced to pull out after receiving thousands of emails from Greek Cypriot exiles, condemning her for violating a UN embargo.
The plans for the resorts are being seen as evidence of a change of outlook towards an independent future.
The wave of investment has outraged Greek Cypriots who view any development in the north as a blow to attempts to isolate the enclave, which is only recognised by Turkey. The influx of businessmen and tourists reduces pressure on the North for reunification by boosting the revenues and credibility of the renegade government.
President Eroglu has disavowed his predecessors’ enthusiasm for reunification since he elected in April.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, warned Mr Eroglu last month that the window of opportunity for the current talks, which were launched in 2008, would close at the end of the year. President Christofias has appealed for Turkish intervention to save the talks.
In 1974, the Turkish army drove all Greeks from towns and villages across the northern half of the island in a sudden strike precipitated by pogroms against the local Turks.
The roots of the current impasse lie in the failure of a 2004 referendum on the Annan Plan, a blueprint drawn up by Kofi Annan, Mr Ban’s predecessor, that would have seen land swapped for a loose federation of two self-governing Greek and Turkish entities.
The prospect of continued stalemate has dismayed representatives of families that still hold a dream of returning to properties lost in inter-communal violence and the Turkish invasion.
A deal would mean those with deeds issued after 1974 faced the prospect of losing their homes to previous owners.