Turkey pays a Greek Cypriot damages relating to property it occupies, in addition to VAT on legal costs

Turkey has paid, through the Council of Europe, a Greek Cypriot non � pecuniary damages, plus legal expenses, in addition to VAT in the order of Euros 14,526.75 in line with a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment.

This is the first time since 2003 that Ankara has paid damages to a Greek Cypriot in a case concerning property.

Furthermore, this is the first time that Turkey has paid Value Added Tax (VAT) on legal expenses, essentially recognising the Republic of Cyprus, according to AchilleasDemetriades, the lawyer who handled the case.

Ankara did not appeal the Court decision, which describes the proceedings at the immovable property commission (IPC), operating in Cyprus’ northern Turkish occupied areas, protracted and ineffective.

AndrianiJoannou’s lawyer AchilleasDemetriades has told CNA that on the one hand this development paves the way for payment on the part of Turkey of another Euros 50 million due in 33 individual cases and on the other hand by paying the VAT in essence Turkey confirms recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.

Replying to questions, Demetriades recalls that the ruling was issued in December 2017 and it became final in March 2018.

When a judgment becomes final, the country against which it was issued has three months to abide by it, he explains, adding that Turkey had until 12 June to pay.

According to the ECHR’s judgment in this case, Joannou’s lawyer says, a violation of the right to property was established, because the procedures followed by the IPC were considered to be protracted and ineffective.

The Court asked Turkey to pay non-pecuniary damages of Euros 7,000, expenses and any VAT, he adds.

One of the problems Turkey has with these cases at ECHR level, Demetriades explains, is that it does not wish to pay Greek Cypriots directly.

It is interesting to see that Turkey has managed to find a process in order to meet the deadline set out in the Court judgment, he notes.

It seems, he continues, that Turkey paid the Council of Europe and the Council of Europe, on May 21, deposited in the applicant’s account the total amount of Euros 14,526.75.

Demetriades points out that this is the first time since 2003, that is to say since Turkey paid TitinaLoizidou, that it has paid damages in a case concerning property.

This, he stresses, is extremely important in that another 33 cases filed by individuals are still pending at an estimated cost of Euros 50 million.

Since 2006 the Court ordered Turkey to pay damages in these cases but so far Ankara has refused to pay, he adds.

Now, he continues, with this two-stage process, that is to say paying first the Council of Europe which in turn pays the applicant, we see that there may be a breakthrough.

He describes this process as an innovation, which I believe paves the way for other applicants to be paid.

Joannou’s lawyer further notes that apart from the new process, it is equally important that for the first time in history, at least that I am aware of, Turkey pays VAT on legal expenses.

He adds that the amount paid breaks down to Euros 7,000 for non-pecuniary damages, Euros 6,325 for legal expenses and Euros 1,201.07 for VAT.

Therefore, he stresses, Turkey pays legal expenses which are subject to VAT, adding that in essence Turkey confirms recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.

I consider this of huge importance, Demetriades stresses.

Replying to a question, he also confirms that this is the first time Turkey pays a Greek Cypriot applicant damages in a case concerning property on time.

He recalls however that the ECHR judgment against Turkey on the ineffective procedure of the IPC concerns the facts of that case alone.

The commission, he says, continues to operate and individuals who have encountered similar problems with Joannou, have been lodging applications with the ECHR, adding that he knows of at least another 25 cases pending before the European court. The Joannou judgment will be considered certainly a precedent, he points out.

At the same time, Demetriades explains that when an ECHR judgment is issued there are three levels of compliance.

The first level has to do with just compensation, he says. The second level has to do with the steps a country proposes to take in order to make the procedure before the IPC not to be time consuming and to provide an effective remedy. This, he adds, will be a matter for discussion, noting that the countries prepare an action plan which will then be discussed at Committee of Ministers level.

Replying to a question, he says that generally a timeframe of about six months is given to a country to prepare its action plan.

The third level is the commission of immovable property in general, he says, adding that its procedures should have a quality in accordance with human rights.

Asked whether Joannou will now go back to the IPC in order to seek once more a remedy, he replies that once Turkey corrects the procedure she will return to seek a remedy.

Demetriades further says that the help he is now seeking from the Republic of Cyprus is for an employee of the Land Registry to appear before the IPC, making clear that the IPC is not recognized, to support an experts report which has been provided by the Land Registry on the value of the property in question.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The legal government of the Republic of Cyprus does not recognize any institutions Turkey or its subordinate Turkish Cypriot regime have set up in occupied Cyprus. The UN only recognizes the Republic of Cyprus and has called on all states not to recognize or facilitate in any way the self-declared regime.

Joannou sought compensation for property located in the village of KomaTouYialou, in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. The property, five plots of land, was a gift she received from her aunt. Joannou filed a claim with the immovable property commission in May 2008, for compensation amounting to Euros 2,285,000 approximately.

After much delay, she applied to the ECHR in October 2014. The Court held in December 2017 that Turkey should pay the applicant Euros 7,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and Euros 6,325 in respect of costs and expenses, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final.

This is the first time since the Demopoulos decision in 2010 � which held the IPC to be an effective remedy in principle � that the ECHR condemns Turkey for the committees ineffectiveness.

Source: Cyprus News Agency