Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Talks

National Council meeting called to focus on disputed property issue

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides briefing acting President Yiannakis Omirou on Monday

By Jean Christou

President Nicos Anastasiades plans to call a National Council meeting immediately after the summer break, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Monday as outrage continued in the political sphere over the property issue.

Christodoulides was speaking after a meeting to brief House speaker and Acting President Yiannakis Omirou on Anastasiades’ instructions. “After the holiday, the president intends to call a meeting of the National Council to inform them on the latest developments,” the spokesman said.

“In relation to the property, I want once again to mention that what has been agreed is the individual’s right to property. I think that is an important development given the [long-standing] Turkish position for a comprehensive exchange of property, thus abolishing the individual’s rights,” he said.

The spokesman was referring to an agreement reached last week between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that the rights of all property owners, and current users, would be respected under a settlement, and that a property commission would be created to decide on return, exchange or compensation.

Both leaders have received a lot of flak over the deal during the past week, Akinci because of how Turkish Cypriots living in Greek Cypriot properties would be affected, and Anastasiades, who is being accused of giving up the rights of Greek Cypriots by “equating owners with usurpers”.

UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide last week tried to dispel concerns by saying the media, particularly the Turkish Cypriot press had misunderstood. Akinci is due to brief the media, the ‘parliament’ and others later this week.

The criticism continued on the Greek Cypriot side on Monday with DIKO, Citizens Alliance and the Greens all saying that effectively what was being discussed was “the non-return of refugees to their homes”.

“The right of the legal owner is inalienable and cannot be falsified by criteria nor be substituted by compensation or exchange,” DIKO said.

“This attempt, by adding various criteria and joint recognition of alleged rights of illegal users is identical to provisions of the Annan Plan, which the people already rejected,” added the Citizens Alliance. “The displaced, as sole legal owners, should have secured the right to choose how they wish to use their property.”

“Until recently it was the Turks who were undermining the rights of legitimate owners and their heirs and giving those rights to illegal current users. Unfortunately now we hear Greek Cypriot politicians and political parties adopting the Turkish approach,” the Green Party said, referring to support for Anastasiades from ruling DISY and main opposition AKEL.

Omirou also said on Monday that the rightful owner should have the first say in whatever the alternatives were to be provided. “The rights of ownership as laid down in international and European law should be applied,” he said.

Meanwhile the working group on property issues is intensifying its work in a bid to assist the leaders in bridging their respective positions at the negotiating table, the Cyprus News Agency reported.
Separate Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working groups were established in March 2014.

A source from the Greek Cypriot working group told CNA: “We have started in the last four weeks to have joint meetings with the Turkish Cypriots,” adding that there had also been a joint meeting with the two negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami.

The source also said more information should be given to the public so they can understand what is being discussed. “We need to say more on this matter,” said the source.

Mavroyiannis and Nami are continuing their own meetings until August 7, to be followed by a two-week break. They will resume their work during the last week of August with daily meetings aiming to prepare for the September 1 leaders’ meeting.

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