PROPERTY EXCHANGE NIGHTMARE IN SOUTHERN CYPRUS

Prof. Dr. Ata ATUN

 
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 29 Eylül 2007 Saat : 6:15


 

A possible approval by the European Court of Human Rights of a property exchange between a Greek and Turkish Cypriot is on the agenda. The European court seems to be in the final stages of deciding whether to accept a land exchange between a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot. The European court will possibly ratify the exchange of properties in Cyprus in the case of Mike Tymvios, a Greek Cypriot who petitioned the Property Commission in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) for a land exchange with a Turkish Cypriot. Now the case is in the hands of the European court for approval.

The move has far-ranging implications for all Turkish and Greek Cypriot refugee applicants to the European court, who would then have to use the Property Commission until a Cyprus settlement is reached.

If this request of both parties is ratified by the European court, then an exchange of lands will take place officially in the land registry offices of the KKTC and the Greek Cypriot administration. Following this decision, it is very likely that all the other appeals to the European court will possibly be conveyed to the Property Commission in the KKTC.

Another issue relevant to this property exchange would be the Guardian of Turkish Cypriot Property, which is part of the Greek Cy-priot administration and is the only so-called authority in southern Cyprus legally allowed to return land to Turkish Cypriots who claim it back under the courts, if they have been residing in southern Cyprus for six months or more.

Turkish Cypriots would not need to be inhumanely forced to re-side in the Greek Cypriot territories to repossess their property, if the current property exchange is ratified by the European court. To repos-sess their lands, Turkish Cypriots have since 1974 been forced to re-side in the territories of Greek Cypriot administration, although they are citizens of the European Union. The European court will put an end to this inhumane enforcement, which is against human rights as well.

Although the Greek Cypriot administration claims that a Turkish Cypriot living in the territories of the KKTC could take the property of a Greek Cypriot refugee, it is unlikely that the reverse could apply, since Turkish Cypriot properties in the Greek Cypriot southern areas are protected by the “Guardianship Act.” The European court’s final deci-sion will also nullify this law.

If the European court gives the green light to the property ex-change, not only does it give legitimacy to the Property Commission of the KKTC, but it also puts the guardian on the spot because the Greek Cypriot refugee would be claiming Turkish Cypriot land not legally returned by the guardian, the Greek Cypriot administration.

A possible refusal by the guardian to accept the European court’s ruling, if it is in favor of the Greek Cypriot refugee, could propel the Greek Cypriot administration into a collision course with the court. The Greek Cypriot administration may very well say they don’t want to accept the decision to hand over the land which is under the jurisdic-tion of the guardianship, but the result will be a head-on clash between the Greek Cypriot administration and the European Court of Human Rights and, as a consequence, the Council of Europe. The council would ultimately raise the matter if the European court ruling was not implemented by the Greek Cypriot administration.

This case is a real nightmare in the policy of the Greek Cypriot administration and Mr. Palmas, who in his last statement stated that if this property exchange is ratified by the European court, the Greek Cypriot administration will refuse to enforce it.

The Greek Cypriot administration is opposed to this act and has requested from the European court that a private settlement for the exchange of properties in Cyprus be reassessed and the same day made an official call to Greek Cypriots not to follow Mr. Tymvios, as this act would deeply damage their policy on the road to settlement.

Actually the “enosis” dreams and inactivity of Tassos Papadopou-los’ administration in the Cyprus problem have not only led to a dead end, but have also showcased the incapability of the Greek Cypriot administration to handle serious aspects of the problem, such as the settlement of property disputes, along with others.

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