There have been mixed interpretations in the north regarding the ‘supreme court’s’ ruling on an appeal filed against the Famagusta district court’s 2005 decision stating that properties in the fenced-off area of Varosha belong to the Evkaf religious foundation, Turkish Cypriot media reported on Tuesday.
According to press reports, the ‘supreme court’ which convened on Monday under Narin Sefik unanimously rejected an appeal filed against the Famagusta court’s 2005 ruling by a Greek Cypriot plaintiff.
The ‘court’ the appeal of the Greek Cypriots should have been filed six months after the decision of the ‘lower court, but it was submitted after this time period passed and this was why it was rejected.
At the same’ time however, it issued a new ruling saying that 1974 title deeds should be the basis when evaluating any case on Varosha when it comes to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC).
While some interpreted this as a blow to Evkaf’s claims over Varosha, the head Evkaf İbrahim Benter welcomed the decision. Speaking to Kıbrıs Postası, Benter said the ‘supreme court’ had not rejected the Famagusta court’s 2005 dated decision as the Greek Cypriots had hoped for.
“The wish of the Greek Cypriots was to annul the declaratory judgment of 2005. The court did not annul it. This is the first issue,” said Benter. “The second issue is the opening of the way for the people, that is, the Greek Cypriots, to apply to the Immovable Property Commission. When they apply, the commission will take into consideration the title deeds of 1974. That is, as [there are] two decisions, it is a little bit of a contradictory situation.”
Benter said Evkaf wanted the IPC to work. “Anyway, there is a system here for the Greek Cypriots to pursue their rights. We want this to work. Let them come and search for their rights and we will also go and say what we have to say, because we are also a party to these proceedings. Let the court decide who is right”.
Murat Hakkı, who represents the owner of the Argo Hotel in Varosha Stelios Ioannou, said on Monday that despite the court’s rejection of his client’s appeal, its recognition of 1974 title deeds was extremely important.
“The Supreme Court’s recognition of the 1974 title-deeds as a basis in decisions to be produced on Maraş (Varosha) by the IPC is very important. The decision states the IPC cannot look back at past practices. In other words, these title-deeds are valid, irrelevant as to whether or not any irregularity was carried out during the British period. As a result, what the court decision tells us is that no harm has come to the rights of property owners with the Famagusta district court’s 2005 dated decision,” he said.
Hakkı argued that the court’s ruling had drawn a framework for Varosha property cases, instructing the IPC to focus only on 1974 title deeds and nothing else.