Apostilides judgement about to backfire on GCs?

Meletis Apostolides’  Orams judgement established one fact of law in the EU, if you trespass on a Cypriot refugee’s property then you can be made to leave it and to demolish anything built on it. This law applies no matter whoever the trespasser is and that also applies to the government.

After 1974, the south Cyprus government put all TC properties under the guardianship of the Interior Minister and without following proper expropriation procedures, that government took a large amount of TC land for development projects and for refugee estates. This includes the whole of the old Larnaca Airport and a part of the new one. According to the Cyprus Mail, the owner of that land is a TC south Cyprus citizen who lives in Larnaca and has a Cyprus passport and ID card. The government has been paying him a monthly allowance in order to persuade him not to claim his property in the courts. What would happen if he, like Mr A, applied to a Cyprus court and demanded the demolition of the old Larnaca Airport? How can the court reject such an application, given its decision in the Orams case? What about similar public projects the government has undertaken and which would now be contrary to the current EU laws on compulsory purchase? Would this mean a large number of GC refugees forced to do as the Orams have been forced to do. It would be no use them claiming a political reason for them avoiding this action as it never helped the Orams.

Like Apostolides, the owner of Larnaca airport is a Cypriot citizen. Furthermore, what would happen if  TCs came to the courts in droves, demanding compensation for loss of use of their properties and restitution? Will the government demolish the refugee estates? If they don’t then the amount of compensation due would have a serious impact on the weakening economy. Many have said that the only way to solve the property problem would be through a political solution and there is a possibility in the south that the government may soon be regretting Mr A’s private prosecution. This is probably the reason they never offered him any help, financial or otherwise.

Cyprus Mail 14/2/2010 (Makarios Droushiotis)

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