Cyprus Mail

‘Ankara trying to buy time in property cases before ECHR’


By Antonios Gkildakis

Turkey’s delays over two cases before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) are merely efforts to buy time, lawyer for the Greek Cypriot applicants Achilleas Demetriades said on Saturday.

Turkey was expected to submit its observations to the ECHR earlier this week in relation to two Greek Cypriot property cases in the north but chose instead to acknowledge certain violations in a unilateral declaration, in a bid to close the cases before the court.

The two cases are KV Mediterranean Tours Limited v Turkey concerning a property in Varosha, the fenced-off part of Famagusta, and Panayi and Shiartou v Turkey in Tymbou, a village in Nicosia District. Evkaf, the Directorate-General administering religious and charitable Muslim institutions, claims to be a party in the first case.

Both applicants applied to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) operating in the north to claim compensation for their properties and loss of their use since 1974. They applied last year to the ECHR, complaining about the protracted length and ineffectiveness of the proceedings before the IPC.

With its unilateral declaration this week, Turkey acknowledges there has been a delay in reviewing the two cases at the IPC. It also offered both applicants a total of €11,000 plus expenses to close the cases at the ECHR. The deadline for applicants to reply is February 28.

The last of a series of extensions granted to Turkey to submit its observations at the European Court, ended on Monday.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Demetriades said the court informed him on Friday about Turkey’s response. Ankara also offered €6,000 to the applicants in the KV Mediterranean Tours case and €5,000 for Panayi and Shiartou to compensate for the delay.

“These moves have to do with Turkey’s effort to delay the process even further, in order to avoid the ECHR examining the cases on merit,” Demetriades said, pointing to Evkaf’s involvement in one of the cases.

Evkaf claims to have a stake in properties throughout Varosha, contesting Greek Cypriot ownership, and managed to get involved in the process before the IPC.

“In the case of Varosha questions are raised about the role of Evkaf in the process, for which Turkey’s unilateral declaration remains silent,” Demetraides added.

He said the process followed by Turkey cannot apply in these two cases since the applicants’ complaints are not limited to delays in the process, but also concern the ineffectiveness of the IPC in relation to their property rights.

Applicants have until February 28 to reply to Turkey’s offer. After that the court will decide whether to accept Turkey’s application and close the case or not.

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