Claims by Islamic religious organisation Evkaf over property in fenced-off Varosha is one of the most serious issues the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) will have to rule on in three cases filed recently concerning the ineffectiveness of the immovable property commission (IPC), lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said on Wednesday.
Demetriades represents a company that applied to the ECHR over a complex of residences it owns inside Varosha in Famagusta.
The company, KV Mediterranean Tours, had filed an application with the IPC in July 2010 asking for compensation for loss of use and restitution of the property.
Examination of the case was interrupted numerous times, and in November 2012, the IPC decided that Evkaf must be included in the process as a litigant, after the Turkish side argued that that the closed-off town and large areas outside of it belong to Evkaf.
The company then applied to a court, which decided in 2015 that Evkaf cannot be included in the process. The decision was overturned by the ‘supreme court’ in northern Cyprus in 2016. The process has stagnated since.
“Our position is that Evkaf has no place in this procedure,” Demetriades said.
There is a reference in the 1960 Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus on the final settlement of all claims by Turkish Cypriots, including Evkaf, in exchange of £1.5m sterling paid by the British government, he said.
“Legally, I cannot understand the demand of Evkaf,” Demetriades said.
Unless there is settlement by mid-June the procedure will proceed at the ECHR, he said.
Demetriades said in 2016 when Evkaf announced it would claim 14 per cent of the island’s territory maintaining it belonged to them, that if there was basis to the Evkaf argument, its claims “do not lie against the Greek Cypriot owners but perhaps against the colonial powers, namely the UK”.
Prior to gaining independence from Britain, Demetriades had said, Britian paid over one million pounds to the Turkish Cypriot community in full and final settlement of all claims that the Turkish Cypriot community may have had to Evkaf properties.
He had said that a possible use of the archival information would be for Turkey to open an interstate case against the UK for having illegally disenfranchised the Turkish Cypriots of large amounts of public property.
Another case filed with the ECHR concerns Ioannis Kyriakides who went to the IPC in 2011, demanding compensation for his property. He settled on an offer for £428,360 sterling but the money was never paid. Demetriades also represents the third case concerning two Greek Cypriot refugees, Theorodora Panayi and Evdoxia Shartou, who applied to the IPC in 2012 over a property they had inherited from their mother. They asked for compensation and restoration of the property but their application went nowhere forcing them to seek recourse at the ECHR.
Kyriakides’ lawyer, Murat Hakki, told the CNA that there are no available remedies in the north in cases of no payment by the IPC. Appealing to the ECHR is a form of pressure on the commission.