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Turkish violations of rights of enclaved Greek Cypriots not limited to a few hundred, Nicosia says

Violations of the property rights of enclaved Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas peninsula, in the Turkish-occupied northeastern tip of Cyprus, are not limited to the few hundred persons that remain there, says Nicosia, noting that the number of enclaved after the 1974 Turkish invasion was some 20,000.

Property rights of enclaved Greek Cypriots are set to be discussed at the Council of Europe during the next session of the Committee of Ministers, between December 4 and 6, in Strasbourg. It has been the subject of numerous sessions, with the Committee deciding to defer consideration to future meetings, most recently in March 2018.

According to a government memorandum, the Republic of Cyprus understands that the Committee’s decisions for these deferrals are explained in part by the need to consider the impact of the May 2014 Court judgement, which ordered Turkey to pay €60 m in damages to enclaved Greek Cypriots of the Karpas peninsula.

The effect of these deferrals, the memorandum goes on, is that the Committee lacks up to date evidence in relation to the legal status of the measures taken by Turkey. Moreover, the government says that Turkey has not provided answers to various questions posed, regarding the treatment of enclaved persons.

Nicosia notes that the violations identified by the Court in the “Cyprus v. Turkey” case – and which are distinct from those that were intended to be compensated with the 2014 judgement – are by no means limited to the damage suffered by the few hundred remaining enclaved persons.

Damage, it is added, is also liable to be suffered by those residents who have left the Karpas peninsula since 1974 and who own property in the occupied areas of Cyprus, as well as by the heirs of deceased enclaved Greek Cypriots not living in the occupied part on the island.

The Turkish side maintains that following a 2008 decision, the enclaved are able to maintain their property rights in the event of their definite departure from the occupied areas, on the condition that they maintain minimum contacts, either through a bank account or by being members of a local association. Moreover, it maintains that the enclaved may transfer property to a person of their choice, on the condition that legal proceedings start within a year from their departure from the Turkish-occupied north.

The Republic of Cyprus also poses various questions, asking for example how many people have benefited from the measures the Turkish side maintains that are in place and whether they comprise an effective remedy for the great majority of Greek Cypriots who left the northern part of Cyprus before 2008.

Nicosia also asks how many title deeds have been issued in the name of Greek Cypriot heirs by year and what happens with the heirs that applied before the 2008 decision.

Moreover, the government wonders whether a telephone hotline, which the Turkish side says is in place to facilitate the enclaved, is functioning.

Nicosia requests the Committee of Ministers to underline Turkey’s obligation to pay damages awarded in 2014 and to express dismay at the continued failure of Turkey to comply with that obligation.

Finally, it calls on the Deputies of the member states to exhort the Turkish authorities to pay immediately damages, plus interest.

Nicosia also wants the body to ask Turkey to provide answers to the questions posed not later than March 1, 2019 and to resume consideration of the issue in September 2019.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

The European Court of Human Rights sentenced Turkey in numerous cases, brought forward by Greek Cypriots, concerning the violation of their fundamental human rights, following the 1974 invasion, with regards to their property.

(Cyprus News Agency)

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