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Turkish Cypriots Doubt South Will Treat Property Problems Fairly

Turkish Cypriots Doubt South Will Treat Property Problems FairlyA Turkish Cypriot property seminar held at the Turkish Cypriot Community Association (TCCA) building on 24th Jan 2016 revealed fears that claims for property would not favour Turkish Cypriots. As a starting point the seminar introduced the story of Esat Mustafa who lodged his case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after South Cyprus courts failed to secure him restitution and compensation for the loss of his home in Vroisha – the village of his birth located in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains. His complaint was that the South’s Land Registry made the job of claimants very difficult in terms of verifying their ownership of properties in the South.

This story was followed by one from a member of the audience who had paid lawyers £100,000 and 8 years later had received a fraction of his deceased father’s titles. His battle was with Greek Cypriot officials and Turkish Cypriot lawyers ‘whose allegiance was not always to him, the client’.

Several members of the audience were concerned over the huge problems posed by cultural differences, especially in a Greek-dominated bureaucracy.

‘Many deeds date back centuries and need to be translated by palaeographers from their original Ottoman (a mixture of Turkish, Arabic and Farsi) before they can be implemented. Some deeds were not properly registered by families to avoid tax, and others fear the South may ‘doctor’ the deeds in favour of Greek Cypriots.

There are also thousands of donums of land that were once owned by the Turkish Islamic religious trust EVKAF, which were illegally transferred under the Colonial administration to Greek Cypriot occupiers during the demise of the Ottomans.’

The feeling was that if Greek Cypriots continue to dominate decision-making related to legalities concerning individual properties then Turkish Cypriots stand to lose every case.

The seminar chair Fahri Zihni commented:

“Based on the work-rate of the [TRNC] Immovable Property Commission and the number of outstanding cases, it will take another 6,000 years for the property situation to be finally resolved on an “individual exchange” basis. What is particularly alarming is that property disputes are apparently being dealt with in 22 different categories. This in itself is a recipe for disaster, and fertile ground for lawyers to bring endless expensive objections about which category applies to their case.”

Esat Mustafa added that:

“Information about the actual solutions being discussed is very sparse, and what there is, is often contradictory. Turkish Cypriots attending the seminar were all perplexed about why their side is not arguing for a global exchange solution, whereby people are compensated for their loss of property without destroying many stable and settled communities. The Demopoulos case clearly states people should not be forcibly uprooted – it’s an important principle both leaders should adhere to.”

The ECHR made a landmark ruling in the case of Demopoulos and seven others in 2010, brought against the Republic of Turkey for ‘depriving them of their property since August 1974.

‘In its judgment, the Court acknowledged the rights of existing owners residing in refugee properties in Cyprus and struck out as a valid reason for restitution emotional attachment to homes by descendants of refugees.

Finding against the plaintiffs, the ECHR ruled that given the passage of time, there is no automatic right of return for refugees. They also found the TRNC’s Immovable Property Commission (IPC) to be a fair “domestic remedy” for Greek Cypriot refugees.

In Clause 116 of their judgment, the Court said it would be “arbitrary and injudicious” to impose mass restitution as it would result in the “forcible eviction and rehousing of potentially large numbers of men, women and children”.

Its reasoning for this was made clear in Clause 117: “[it was] necessary to ensure that the redress applied to those old injuries does not create disproportionate new wrongs.”

Also in the same clause: “there is no precedent in the Court’s case-law to support the proposition that a Contracting State must pursue a blanket policy of restoring property to owners without taking into account the current use or occupation of the property in question.”

The ECHR ruling has been tested in several other cases, including Asproftas and Petrakidou, and each time the principles established in the Demopoulos case were followed.

Since its launch a decade ago, a total of 6,270 applications have been lodged with the TRNC’s IPC. To date, 731 of them have been concluded through friendly settlements and 21 through formal hearing.’

Source: www.t-vine.com

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8 comments to Turkish Cypriots Doubt South Will Treat Property Problems Fairly

  • Cyprus Sue

    The problem is the IPC stopped paying out years ago so its no longer a viable option. Even though agreement was reached, the agreed compensation was not paid in many cases.

  • Cyprus Sue

    By the way, I feel sick to the stomach thinking that GC and TC lawyers would be involved in this in any way. Madness and asking for mismanagement whilst inviting corruption.

  • Miltiades

    ” There are also thousands of donums of land that were once owned by the Turkish Islamic religious trust EVKAF, which were illegally transferred under the Colonial administration to Greek Cypriot occupiers during the demise of the Ottomans.’”

    The mind boggles ! Were these thousands of ….legally owned donums imported to Cyprus by the invading Ottomans in 1571 ?
    Dom perhaps you could throw some light on this.

  • Miltiades

    ” There are also thousands of donums of land that were once owned by the Turkish Islamic religious trust EVKAF, which were illegally transferred under the Colonial administration to Greek Cypriot occupiers during the demise of the Ottomans.’”

    I suppose these thousands of donums were imported to Cyprus in 1571 by the Ottomans invading Cyprus.!!!

  • Dominic Freeman

    Milt, I think you’ll find that in 1571 the Ottomans took the land from the Venetians who had conquered Cyprus in 1488 after conquering the Venetians who had conquered the Genoese who had taken it from the Lusignans who were given it in 1191 by British who got it from the Byzantines… Anyway, the British took Cyprus from the Ottomans and in 1960 gave it to the Cypriots. 14 years later Greek Cypriots tried to give it to the Greeks and ended up dividing the island.

    I didn’t think you Greek Cypriots have really been in charge for more than a few years over the last 1000 years and then you messed up, so perhaps it is best if someone else looks after it for you. Bet that wasn’t in your Greek Cypriot school books.

  • Miltiades

    The fact that being a small island in a strategic position we were subjected to many occupiers over many many years, this does not diminish our right to self determination.

    The Ottomans arrived as conquerors, they did not bring land from their territories, they simply took Cypriot land over just as they did in 1974.

  • AM

    Whats all this “we” and “our” spoken so lovingly about Cyprus ?

    Lets not forget you abandoned this country over 60 yes sixty years ago and have never lived there since,… you are a pretend nationalist Cypriot who really has no say in what goes on there… what a nugget.

  • Miltiades

    Well Stupid, its 55 years actuallyand I did not abandon Cyprus anymore than any Cheapskated abandoned their place of birth. My connection with Cyprus, I vist at least 7-8 times a year has never been severed, I have a daughter and grandchildren as well as numerous relatives and friends in Cyprus, I speak fluent Greek and far superior English to yours, therefore my usage of ” we” is very appropriate.
    Now Stupid, hobble along to the shop that mis sold you your computer and demand a full refund on the grounds that you are far too stupid to use !