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Turkey pays Greek Cypriot refugee who sought compensation

The European Court of Human Rights

Turkey has paid the compensation and legal expenses awarded to a Greek Cypriot refugee by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in a land case in which it also ruled that a property commission in the breakaway state was ineffective.

Achilleas Demetriades, the lawyer who represented Andriani Joannou, said Turkey paid through the Council of Europe, including VAT, “in reality confirming recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.”

Demetriades told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the move paved the way for Turkey to pay some €50m awarded in 33 previous cases.

Joannou sought compensation for property located in the village of Koma Tou Yialou in the occupied areas.

She had received the property, five plots of land, as a gift from her aunt. Joannou filed a claim with the immovable property commission in May 2008 for compensation amounting to €2,285,000 approximately.

After much delay, she applied to the ECHR in October 2014. The court held in December 2017 that Turkey should pay the applicant €7,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages and €6,325 plus €1,201 in VAT in respect of costs and expenses, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final.

Demetriades said Turkey’s problem was paying Greek Cypriots directly and under pressure of the payment deadline – three months after the decision became final last March – Ankara decided to pay the €14,526 through the Council of Europe.

“What is important is that Turkey has paid damages for the first time since 2003 when it paid Titina Loizidou,” Demetriades said. “This is of huge importance because there are 33 cases pending worth around €50m.”

“This is an innovation and I believe the way is open for other applicants to be paid.”

Demetriades said it was also the first time that Turkey paid VAT on legal expenses.

“I think its hugely important.”

Also important was the ECHR decision that the IPC was ineffective.

This is also the first time since the Demopoulos decision in 2010 – which held the IPC to be an effective remedy in principle – that the ECHR condemns Turkey for the committee’s ineffectiveness.

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