The first thing Greek Cypriot owners of Varosha property must do is ensure that they have title deeds in the name of a living person, lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said on Thursday.
Demetriades was speaking on Politis radio in view of emerging speculation that the inventory of property of Famagusta’s fenced-off city announced earlier in the week by Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay would be followed by an invitation for Greek Cypriot property owners to return to the city but under Turkish Cypriot administration.
Demetrades restated his confidence in the legal legitimacy of Greek Cypriot property owners despite the ownership claim submitted by Islamic religious organisation Evkaf, and he said authentic title deed records in both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot land registries would hold sway.
The issue, he said, lies with those will refuse to return to their Varosha homes under a Turkish Cypriot administration as they will be entitled to compensation, the value of which will be very difficult to calculate.
Last week, Demetriades said, President Nicos Anastasiades received a list of all properties in the north valued at 1974 prices, which do not reflect their current value, he said.
“Converting value is a difficult matter but those who do not wish to return will need a concrete response regarding the amount of compensation,” he added.
The revelation of an unannounced meeting between Anastasiades and Ozersay, in conjunction with the latter’s announcement of plans to reopen Varosha have fostered heightened concern both communities over eroding chances of a federal solution.
Under the scenario circulating across Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot media on Thursday regarding what would follow the inventory of Varosha property announced by Ozersay, Turkish and foreign capital would be invited to fund the reconstruction of the abandoned city which would then be placed under Turkish Cypriot administration.
Ozersay’s reference to his aim to respect the rights of previous owners led to speculation that the 30,000 Greek Cypriot owners of Varosha properties would be given the choice to move back into their homes, but under Turkish Cypriot administration.
But Ozersay also said he would respect the property rights of Evkaf, which claims ownership of the majority of Varosha properties.
Disy leader Averof Neophytou said on Thursday that a repopulated Varosha under Turkish Cypriot administration would be a violation of international law and a UN resolution stating that the city must be returned to its lawful inhabitants.
“What they are trying to do is something very, very dangerous,” Neophytou said. “On the one hand they want to place the ownership status of Varosha under dispute by claiming that it belongs to Evkaf, and on the other hand, whatever property remains, to call the previous Greek Cypriot owners back to live under the illegal regime.”
Unficyp spokesperson Aleem Siddique told CNA on Thursday that the UN was following developments.
Reports claim that the plan was drawn up by Ozersay years ago, but was delayed due to the intervention of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who supported the repopulation of Varosha but under Greek Cypriot administration within the framework of a federal solution.
With increased tensions over Turkish drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ, speculation about backdoor discussions regarding a two-state solution between Anastasiades and Ozersay, and with a federal solution drifting further away, reports claim that Ozersay’s timing in announcing the plan was not coincidental.
Ozersay stated on Wednesday that it was not yet clear what the plan was for Varosha after the inventory, while ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar who will be competing with him in the upcoming ‘presidential’ elections in the north in 2020, referred to plans for the creation of a ‘Las Vegas’ and called for Turkish investors.
Turkish Cypriot Democratic Party leader Serdar Denktash claimed on Thursday that while he has been a long-time proponent of Ozersay’s plan, he noted that something dubious must be going on if Ozersay is defying Akinci, and especially so if this development was discussed between Ozersay and Anastasiades at the controversial dinner, keeping Akinci in the dark.
Maronite representative Yiannakis Mousas, who hosted the dinner with Anastasiades and Ozersay at his home on June 4, claims the two had a general discussion on the Cyprus problem, but reached no agreements, especially regarding the future of Varosha.