14 May 2014 11:39

The immovable property commission in the occupied north is just a remedy and does not absolve Turkey from its responsibility to stop violating the property rights of Greek Cypriots.
This is the meaning behind Monday's decision by the European Court of Human Rights to order Turkey to pay €90 million to Cyprus over the 1974 invasion of the island and its subsequent division, says human rights lawyer Achilleas Demetriades.
"The commission is just a remedy. The Demopoulos case judgment created the impression that the compensation commission closed the property chapter for Greek Cypriot owners of property in the occupied area. This is not the case," Demetriades told The Cyprus Daily.
Attorney General Costas Klerides fully backed this view, telling state radio that Europe's top human rights court recognises that Turkey continues to violate human rights in Cyprus.
"Another very important aspect of Monday's decision is that of property, especially after the Demopoulos case judgement and the setting up of the commission in the occupied area with the blessing of the ECHR," Clerides said.
"That development raised fears that the property issue should be considered closed. Today, with this decision, all those fears are dismissed," he added.
In 2010, the ECHR ruled in the case of Demopoulos, a Greek Cypriot property owner in the north suing Turkey that the commission had to be the first port of call for displaced property owners.
It was deemed an effective domestic remedy, and that Greek Cypriots needed to first lodge claims with the commission. There was an option for appeal to the high administrative court in the breakaway north in order to exhaust the domestic remedies.
The ECHR's ruling also said that the passage of time since the 1974 invasion did not erase responsibility in the case.
And that Turkey must pay €30 million in damages to relatives of those missing in the operations and €60 million in damages for "the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents of the Karpas peninsula."
The court said it would be up to the government of Cyprus to determine how to award the damages.
Asked whether Turkey will ever pay the millions ordered by the court, Demetriades who had won the landmark case of Titina Loizidou v Turkey said certainly yes. No matter how long that may take.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Turkey will be obliged to pay this money one day. It took five years for Turkey to pay the money in the Titina Loizidou case and it may take as long or even longer in this case too. But Turkey will pay," he said.
Demetriades also called on the government to get 'creative' when examining ways to collect the compensation.
"Why don't we ask the Troika to get that money from Turkey? IMF deals with Turkey, they have accounts with Turkey. The EU could also force Turkey to pay the money."
Demetriades believes the EU could ask Turkey to abide to its obligation before opening another chapter in its accession course.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglou yesterday said his country won't pay the compensation ordered by the court. And that the ECHR's decision exceeds its jurisdiction.



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