By Jean Christou
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis on Tuesday published a document relating to the property issue in the ongoing Cyprus talks that spoke of 60,000 Greek Cypriots resettling in a post-solution Turkish Cypriot constituent state and 100,000 in returned territory.
It said the same figures were provided for under the failed 2004 Annan plan. Around 200,000 Greek Cypriots were displaced in 1974.
Havadis cited some of the provisions in the document regarding Greek Cypriot property owners. It said they would have the choice of compensation or selling the property to the user, exchanging the property for land in the south of the island, or if the owner does not which to claim his property back immediately, he could offer the user a long-term rental. When a Greek Cypriot wants his property back immediately, the user would be offered an alternative. The user could also be given compensation for the money he spent on improving the property, it added. If a property is not claimed by a Greek Cypriot it would be assigned to the user after a period of time.
Disputes would be handled by the post-solution property commission already agreed by the leaders of the two communities.
Commenting on the report on Tuesday, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said there was no clear picture of the property issue as yet in the talks. Both leaders have said disagreements remain but both have pledged to recognise the rights of both the owners and the current users.
Akinci said the two sides were continuing to work on determining the criteria for settling the property issue and called on the public not to pay attention to such reports. “We are trying to do what is best for our people. The people should listen to what we have to say. In the end it will be the people who will decide,” he said.
Stating that documents such as the one published are frequently exchanged as part of the negotiations process, he said he had not seen the one referred to and assumed it must be one submitted by the Greek Cypriot side. “I need to examine if the documents published are in fact genuine. We send copies of these documents to the parliament but we are not under any obligation to explain them to anyone”.
Akinci argued that in any case, ‘first application’ for a property was different from ‘first right of say’. “Of course the first application will be made by the owner of the property. This is only natural. I believe that some will be demanding compensation at the very beginning. But it doesn’t mean that when the first title deed owner wants his or her property back that there will be restitution. This issue will be solved entirely through the criteria to be determined,” Akinci added.
Akinci also claimed that the Turkish Cypriot side has been insisting that the majority of property ownership in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state should belong to Turkish Cypriots. “This is clearly stated in standing UN parameters agreed at the beginning of the 90s,” he said.
According to information leaked to the Greek-language media following Saturday’s National Council meeting on property a total of 23 categories for return, compensation or exchanges, had been agreed. In the event of a dispute, the commission would take into consideration the legitimate owner and how long they had the property before 1974, how long the user has been living it and whether they were Turkish Cypriot, Turkish settler, or a foreigner.