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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Bard aids Turkish Cypriot tourism
Famagusta lies near the dividing line of Cyprus
Turkish Cypriots are counting on Shakespeare to promote their self-declared state to tourists.

Turkish actors have begun performing the Bard's tragedy Othello in a tower in Famagusta, said to be the actual site of the play.

The show is sponsored by the tourism ministry of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Istanbul municipality.

The Othello Tower is part of the Venetian walls that surround the old part of Famagusta, recorded as one of the main trade centres in the eastern Mediterranean in medieval times.

The city lies just north of the UN-controlled green line that divides the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides of the island.

Historic heritage

Although there has been a huge rise in tourism to Cyprus in recent years the majority visit the southern part of the island, more than 2.7m a year.

Around 250,000 tourists a year visit the northern state, which is recognised only by Ankara, with the majority holidaying from Turkey.

British visitors also make up a large number of tourists, but they must enter via Turkey.

Speaking after first the first night of Othello, TRNC tourism minister Serdar Denktash stressed that greater efforts were needed to promote tourism in the north.

"The TRNC is a place with historic heritage and diverse cultures, a place to live and holiday," he said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.

Both sides have held indirect talks to prepare the way for a settlement but the Turkish Cypriots' demand for recognition as a state continues to hamper any chance of a deal.

See also:

28 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Cyprus
11 Feb 02 | Arts
Stars sing Shakespeare
17 Aug 01 | Arts
Twisting with the Bard
05 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Eurythmics back on tour
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