By Baris Gundogan and Yildiz Nevin Gondogmus
GAZIMAGUSA/ANKARA (AA) – The people of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) will not accept deadlock as the fate of the long-divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, said Turkey's vice president on Saturday.
Fuat Oktay's remarks came during a meeting on the legal, political and economic aspects of reopening the abandoned town of Maras — empty for decades — in the Turkish Cypriot city of Gazimagusa.
Oktay said efforts to open the abandoned town proved that Turkish Cypriots would not accept the status quo.
Turkey aims to protect the rights of Cypriot Turks and ensure their political equality with Greek Cypriots, he added.
"Maras belongs to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," he added, saying: "Steps by the TRNC for the economy and welfare of the area are legitimate."
Last year, Oktay said Maras would reopen after properties in the town were fairly returned to their rightful owners on the basis of historic documents.
Maras is currently a ghost town where entry is forbidden except for Turkish army personnel stationed in the TRNC.
Abandoned after the passage of a 1984 UN Security Council resolution, Maras' reopening was announced by Turkish Cypriot authorities on June 18.
Historical and archival research backed by Turkey found that most of the land in Maras belongs to Turkish foundations, Oktay had said.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all failing.
The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries — Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. — came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.