North Cyprus attempts to woo Charles with invite to abandoned 7-star hotel ‘Firm owns’

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Cyprus President reacts to being snubbed from Queen’s funeral

King Charles has been invited to visit the world’s first-ever seven-star hotel – understood to be owned by the Royal Family – by the President of Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) as he tries to break the deadlock on the island of Cyprus. The invitation to King Charles has come just ahead of the Presidential elections in the Republic of Cyprus in the Greek Cypriot southern part of the island on February 5 with the future reunification with the TRNC at the top of the agenda.

President Tatar believes that reunification is now “absolutely impossible” and he wants the winner of the election in the south and the rest of the world led by Britain to recognise the sovereignty of his country as part of “a two state solution” to end the 60-year crisis.

He has accused the UK of failing to take advantage of Brexit freedoms to broker “a fair solution”.

President Tatar, who went to Cambridge University and worked in Britain, has “a deep love” for the UK.

But speaking of his hurt over the snub for the Queen’s funeral, he pointed out that the snub was not just for himself and the TRNC but also for around 300,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the UK and hundreds of thousands more who were the Queen’s subjects.

He said: “I talked to the High Commissioner and when he went to find out what was going on he told me I was not invited.

“I was disappointed. A Greek Cypriot cannot possibly represent me and the Turkish Cypriots”.

But he suggested that the new King could visit the world’s first seven-star hotel, which he believes may still be the property of the Royal family.

Speaking of his government’s efforts to bring life back to the ghost town of Maraş, he noted: “The Queen had the hotel there belonging to the Royal family. So maybe they can come and have it returned back to the King.

“King Charles can come here too if he wishes.”

King Charles, TRNC President Ersin Tatar, Golden Sands Hotel

North Cyprus President Ersin Tatar has suggested King Charles visit to claim the Golden Sands Hotel (Image: GETTY/ TRNC)

The significance of an official Royal visit would be that the TRNC had been formally recognised and could enter the Commonwealth as a separate member.

The invitation centres on the mysterious Golden Sands Hotel, which stands in part of the once fashionable resort town of Maraş in the TRNC-controlled area on the divided island.

Since the Turkish army moved into North Cyprus to protect Turkish Cypriots in 1974, Maraş has been left abandoned as a ghost town, a bargaining chip in negotiations to find a resolution on the island.

This included the Golden Sands which was the world’s first seven-star hotel and had five years of bookings when it opened in 1974 before being forced to shut with the rest of the town just three months after it first opened its doors to guests.

The resort also included a seafront home of the Hollywood legend Sophia Loren and was a favourite holiday destination of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, and Brigitte Bardot.

Among the empty properties in what has been described as “a monument to diplomatic failure” are 45 hotels, 3,000 commercial properties, 60 apartment hotels, 21 banks, 25 museums, 20 theatres and museums, and 99 entertainment venues.

But after decades of failed talks, President Tatar’s government last year decided to open up the town to both Turkish and Greek Cypriots to visit and has given individual owners, mostly Greek Cypriots, the opportunity to return to reclaim their properties.

READ MORE: UK can help tackle Europe’s energy shortage by resolving Cyprus crisis

The Golden Sands Hotel

The Golden Sands Hotel could be the property of the King (Image: DAVID MADDOX)

So far 3.4 percent of the town has been reclaimed, and President Tatar admits that the process is “complex” because of competing property claims and time including the ownership of the enormous Golden Sands Hotel which was so big that inside it had a railway to take it around.

Competing ownership claims in Maraş and all of Cyprus are being dealt with by the Immovable Property Commission with three options of reclaiming property, receiving financial compensation, or arranging swaps of property.

Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu, a North Cypriot MP on the negotiating team about the future of the island, told a visiting group of journalists that the Golden Sands is now “leased by the Ministry of Defence”.

This has been denied by the MoD which claims that interest there ended in 1960 when the UK agreed to Cyprus becoming independent but kept its two sovereign bases on the island.


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Actress Sophia Loren

Hollywood icon Sophia Loren had a house in Maras (Image: GETTY)

Sophia Loren's house

Sophia Loren’s house in Maras (Image: DAVID MADDOX)

According to the TRNC Maraş has been offered back to the Greek Cypriots as part of a number of deals including allowing direct flights to North Cyprus which are still not allowed.

Around 15 different agreements including the Annan plan in 2004 which would have reunified the island under a federal structure have been rejected by the Greek Cypriots in the south.

Despite reneging on the Annan plan the Republic of Cyprus was allowed into the EU which has brought talks to a virtual standstill with formal UN-brokered discussions breaking down in 2017.

President Tatar, who was elected in 2020 on a platform calling for a two-state solution, believes only that settlement is now possible with the two countries effectively divided for 60 years since 1963 even though only Turkey officially recognises the TRNC.

He said: “Since the Republic of Cyprus was accepted into the European Union we have not had a realistic chance of settlement.

“We have to have our sovereign equality reaffirmed.

“We are an independent state we have our own democratic rights. We have our own history oin the island, we have our own culture.

“It is our democratic right to exist within our own state.

“It’s our inherent right from the 1960 constitution.”

The abandoned resort of Maras

The abandoned resort of Maras (Image: DAVID MADDOX)

He added that “only when the sovereign right” of the TRNC to exist is recognised can talks on other issues including oil and gas supplies around the island waters can be discussed.

He said: “Turkish Cypriot state was founded in 1963. We have had our own state for 60 years. After 60 years you reconsider this.”

President Tatar also spoke of his disappointment in Britain to use its Brexit freedoms along with its status as a guarantor for the island with Greece and Turkey to change policy and help end the stand-off.

He said: “When the British were in the European Union because Greece and the Republic of Cyprus were there the hands of the British were tied because Europeans as a block they very much sided with the Greek Cypriots.

“Now the British have come out of the EU we all thought that because they have a lot of history in Cyprus, knowing the details of Cyprus, the British would have been more fair to Turkish Cypriots.

“Because they were now out of Europe and their hands were no longer tied. But the British chose just to continue the same policy.

“They chose the easier route which was to continue their policy as if they were in Europe.”