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Cyprus Property

Lawyer says it was state, not plaintiff who asked to take part in property case

It was the Republic that asked to take part in a property case against Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and not the plaintiff, a lawyer said on Thursday, after the state’s refusal to participate citing public interest.

Achilleas Demetriades was referring to a case brought before the ECHR by Greek Cypriot expat Andriani Joannou against Turkey, over the effectiveness of the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) it had set up in the occupied north.

Joannou had applied to the IPC in 2008, demanding restitution reflecting the value of the land at current prices, as well as damages for loss of use, to the tune of €2.6 million, on the basis of a valuation by a Greek-Cypriot chartered surveyor. The commission offered a little over €80,000, which Joannou rejected.

She has since been faced with long delays and difficulties, including incessant requests for documentation, which she claims are in breach of the “reasonable time” requirement of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2014, Joannou resorted to the ECHR, claiming the eight-year – and counting – delay indicated that the IPC is an “ineffective remedy” to people who claim restitution for land they own in the occupied north of Cyprus.

Since recognising the IPC as an effective remedy to all such claims in 2010, the ECHR has demanded that “all internal means” are exhausted before cases are brought before it.

Attorney-general Costas Clerides said that any private citizen choosing to take on the responsibility of handling serious matters of principle, which affect a group of the population and create precedent, could not demand after the fact that the Republic necessarily step in and support the views and predicaments they have created themselves.

On Thursday, Demetriades issued a statement saying it was the Republic which had asked to participate in the first place, on January 28 this year.

The ECHR gave the state until September 22 to submit its position but an extension was requested until Tuesday – October 21.

“Consequently, the Republic cannot claim that the plaintiff demands its intervention, since it had done so itself since January 2016,” Demetriades said.

Joannou rejected the AG’s suggestion that she was jeopardising public interest.

“But if the Republic wants to protect public interest, wouldn’t it be better if it participated in the procedure instead of being evasive.”

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