A ‘bill’ in the breakaway north provides that Turkish Cypriot land owners in Cyprus’ free areas can now also apply for exchange of properties before a controversial commission operated by Turkey.
The news prompted Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides yesterday to say the government will look ‘carefully’ into this development which could hamper peace negotiations on the thorny territorial issue.
Kasoulides said: “We will look carefully into these methodical plans by the occupation regime to create a new territorial fait accomplis. There is no concrete information on this yet”.
The north’s ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami said that an amended ‘bill’ now enables Turkish Cypriots to also apply before the ‘Immovable Property Commission’ so that they exchange property in the south with ones in the Turkish-held north.
Nami also said: “We have extended the scope of applications to the Immovable Property Commission. Up to this day only Greek Cypriots could apply.”
This has sparked speculation that the new ‘bill’ is linked with fresh efforts brokered by the United Nations to reunite the island - divided for 40 years now.
A month ago, Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos said the number of applications by Greek Cypriot refugees to the ‘property commission’ in the north were declining as a result of the resumption of peace talks.
Without offering figures, Hasikos had also said the agreement to restart peace talks created hope and prospects and led to a reduction in those applications.
And that a number of measures were being taken to curb the number of displaced Greek Cypriots applying for compensation or an exchange of properties.
The Greek Cypriot negotiating team is concerned that the more Greek Cypriot property owners try to sell their properties in the occupied areas, the worse their negotiating position is at the peace talks -- particularly as regarding territorial adjustments.
Disillusioned Greek Cypriot owners of land in the north are willing to accept minimal compensation from the ‘commission’ especially now that the once strident economy is in tatters.