No change of ownership status for Turkish-occupied properties awaiting compensation, Greek Cypriot refugees say

The damages awarded by the European Court of Human Rights to Greek Cypriot refugees for their properties in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, and which have not been paid yet by Turkey, do not change the ownership status of these properties, refugees say in a letter to the Council of Europe.

Their cases are part of the 33 cases of the Xenides-Arestis group, for which the Committee of Ministers says Turkey has an unconditional obligation to pay damages without further delay. The cases will be reviewed in the forthcoming meeting of the Committee of Ministers, between 4 and 6 June, in Strasbourg. Refugees say, though their lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, that Turkey has continued to disregard the Committee of Minsters’ decisions and the three interim resolutions in 2008, 2010 and 2014.

They add that the damages awarded was for loss of use of their properties, for various dates between 1990 and 2012, and not for their expropriation, with refugees noting that properties remain theirs and they are entitled to peacefully enjoy them.

No payment of just satisfaction for loss of use can change the ownership status of the properties in issue. Simply put, payment of rent does not change the ownership of the property the letter continues, with refugees calling for a fourth interim resolution to be adopted so that Turkey fulfils its obligations.

The lawyer also refers to the ineffectiveness of the immovable property commission, set up by Turkey in the northern, Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, as established by the case of Joannou v. Turkey in 2017. Demetriades adds that 40 or so similar cases are pending before the Court and 3 have recently been communicated to Turkey, with their friendly settlement period ending in mid-June.

In a separate memorandum to the Strasbourg-based organization, Turkey says that applicants in the Xenides-Arestis group have all pending proposals, which they can pursue before the commission set up by Turkey in the occupied part of Cyprus.

Turkey differentiates these cases from that of Titina Loizidou, whose supervision Ankara wants closed. The Turkish letter marks almost a year of absence of the Turkish Permanent Representative from Committee sessions reviewing Cyprus-related cases. For two other cases, that of Tymvios and Alexandrou, Ankara wants the Committee to adopt the final resolutions and close these cases as well.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results.

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.

Source: Cyprus News Agency