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Turkish Cypriot property claims in Republic ‘the other side of the same coin’

Lawyer Achilleas Demetriades

Turkish Cypriots claim their properties in the Republic just as Greek Cypriots claim theirs in the north, lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said on Wednesday, warning that taxpayers will eventually be called to foot the bill for the government’s mismanagement of these properties.

Demetriades, commenting on reports that a Turkish Cypriot foundation filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over its prime properties in central Nicosia in the south after domestic legal remedies were exhausted in Cyprus, said this was “the other side of the same coin”, as regards the property issue on the island.

“Just as the Greek Cypriots claim their property in the occupied areas, the Turkish Cypriots claim their property in the free areas,” Demetriades told the Cyprus News Agency. “The difference is that in the free areas the system of the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties has been created, while in the occupied areas they say that they own them (properties).”

He said Greek Cypriots’ properties in the north are three times the size of those of Turkish Cypriots in the south.

Demetriades, who has been representing Greek Cypriots claiming their properties in the north for around three decades, said that this is not the only case concerning Turkish Cypriot properties filed against the guardian before the ECHR.

The interior minister is the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties in the government-controlled areas. A service within the interior ministry manages these properties until a solution to the Cyprus problem is found.

On whether the taxpayer would foot the bill of possible compensations awarded to the complainants, he said it was possible though so far, the government had been following the compromise policy so these cases do not reach the ECHR.

“But a day will come when there will be no compromise and the Republic will be forced to adjudicate the lawsuit,” he said. He added that the chances of the Republic’s Guardian Law being considered compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights are slim.

Demetriades also criticised the government for not properly managing the Turkish Cypriot properties, which, he said, ought to be rented at market price with the money being set aside and given to the property owners, if not right away, then after the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

He said the Turkish Cypriot properties have been used by all governments for political expediencies and were not properly managed.

“If the Republic of Cyprus continues to use them as a policy tool, Cypriot taxpayers will be called to foot the bill for this mismanagement from which some people benefit,” he said.

On the possibility of the government creating an immovable properties commission where Turkish Cypriots could claim their properties like the one Turkey has set up in the north for Greek Cypriots, Demetriades did not rule it out but argued it might happen in the distant future if the Cyprus problem is not solved.

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