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How Will Post Settlement Cyprus Property Compensation Work?

How Will Post Settlement Cyprus Property Compensation Work?One of the problems in Cyprus which will have to be faced in deciding compensation for property occupied by other than the person claiming ownership, is the validity of the title deed produced on both sides to prove ownership.

In theory, property occupied in the north that has TRNC ‘exchange’ title deeds (Esdeger) should be fairly easy to sort out. I say that with tongue in cheek. These deeds were issued to Turkish Cypriots by the north’s TRNC government if the recipient gave up equivalent property they had left behind in the south. It should (tongue/cheek) therefore be simple to offer the Turkish Cypriot property in the south as compensation to the Greek Cypriot pre-1974 title deed holder. If they reject it then that property could either be sold or offered to the holder of the TRNC title deed.

Holders of other deeds will not be potentially so lucky. A large amount of Greek Cypriot property with pre-1974 issued title deeds was given away for varying reasons. Often to Turkish settlers to make up for the population drop caused by Turkish Cypriots leaving post-1974 North Cyprus. The rumour is that the international community will be paying compensation for that, if that is acceptable to the Greek Cypriot, or with British Sovereign Base land which I am sure would be even more acceptable, donum for donum.

This issue aside, there is the the matter of Maraş/Varosha ownership:

‘I discovered that during Ottoman Times and early English Times in Cyprus, Maraş belonged to Religious Moslem Foundations (Evkaf).

In 1907 English Colonial Administration passed a law (The Law 12/1907). This was a general prescription law which allowed people to own properties and register title in their names if they possessed them without dispute for 10 years. (Very similar to the English Law which specifies 12 years without dispute). According to this law Maraş titles were transferred to the name of the Greek inhabitants of the time.

However in 1907 there was another law in force in Cyprus, this was Ahkamul Evkaf (Law of Religious Foundations). According to the Ahkamul Evkaf law no Evkaf property could be owned by way of prescription. Evkaf property title is owned in perpetuity. Since Ahkamul Evkaf was a specific law for Evkaf properties it had the priority and should be applied instead of any other law. Applying the general law of 12/1907 and not the specific law was wrong and against legal principles. So Greek Cypriot title deeds relating to Maraş are defective.’ [Taner Erginal, Retired TRNC Chief Justice]

In my mind, this is a tenuous argument, which though legally correct from the standpoint of Ottoman Law, unfortunately according to, in my opinion, unfair British Law, the conclusion is wrong.

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