The foreign ministry on Friday said it was in consultation with the state legal service to handle “with due seriousness” appeals by Greek Cypriots to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Turkey over property claims in the north.
The ministry’s announcement comes after the call on the government this week by lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, who is representing two of three cases currently before the court, to publicly say if the state’s absence from the legal proceedings was due to negligence or a new policy.
Demetriades said on Thursday the government already missed the deadline to submit its comments on one of the cases while the deadline for another case, which he said is a very important one as it concerns the fate of properties in the fenced-off town of Varosha in Famagusta, is June 18. He also said the government seemed reluctant to defend the title deeds it had issued on the Varosha properties.
He said given that the government did not submit any comments in the previous two cases, it was unlikely it would do so in this one.
The foreign ministry said on Friday that in cases of individuals appealing to the ECHR against Turkey, “such issues of national importance that concern aspects of the Cyprus problem and of the consequences of the illegal invasion and occupation are being handled by the government with due seriousness.”
It added that the sole aim was to ensure the best interests of the Republic and defend the rights of Cypriot citizens.
The ministry said it was in consultations with the legal service on handling of these cases from the Republic’s side.
The case for which the government has been asked to express its intent if it wishes to submit any remarks by June 18 is that of KV Mediterranean Tours, a company that applied to the ECHR over a complex of residences it owns inside Varosha and which the Turkish Cypriot religious foundation Evkaf also claims after being introduced as a litigant to the case by the north’s Immovable Property Commission (IPC).
Another case concerned two Greek Cypriot refugees, Theodora 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.
A third 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 not paid at the time.
Kyriakides’ lawyer, Murat Hakki, said on Friday that Turkey reached a friendly settlement with Kyriakides paying the amount owed to him under pressure that the case would be referred to the ECHR.
The deadlines for a friendly settlement for the three cases expire this month.
Hakki told the Cyprus News Agency there are approximately 65 cases before the ECHR, some of which concern property in Varosha, while others concern delays by the IPC in officially submitting offers for compensation to applicants. Among them was Kyriakides’ and 14 other cases concerning the non-payment of the compensation agreed, he said.
He also referred to the financial cost of compensations for Turkey, saying he did not rule out Ankara imposing an ‘Act’ forcing the Turkish Cypriot side to contribute to the payment of compensation to Greek Cypriots.
Discussions are taking place on this issue, he said, “and I expect Turkey will be forced to take concrete steps with regard to the financial issue and the Turkish Cypriot side’s contribution to the compensation mechanism.”
The legal service argued on Thursday that in the case of the Varosha property claim, through the initiative of individuals who seek compensations from the IPC and then appeal to the ECHR, “the non-negotiable ownership of properties within the enclosed area of Varosha has now been put in doubt before the ECHR.”