It is inconceivable that in 2020, Cyprus, an EU member, has done nothing to establish a programme to compensate owners of property in the north for loss of use, in recognition of the principle of equal protection and treatment, a court heard on Thursday.
The argument is included in a written statement filed by former supreme court judge Demetrios Hadjihambis before the administrative court, which is hearing a petition he had filed, seeking a ruling that the state is responsible for compensating refugees for financial losses sustained since the 1974 invasion and subsequent division of the island.
The petition is founded on the position that in the event of a national disaster – like the 1974 invasion – the burden must be shared by the entire population, not only by those specifically suffering loss.
Hadjihambis, 73, said his motive “is not compensation per se, but a recognition of the state’s obligation and its response to its longstanding omission to ensure an equal distribution of the burdens created by the occupation.”
The petitioner estimates that damages for loss of use of the property he owns in Ayios Memnonas, Famagusta, run in the several hundreds of thousands.
The former judge argues that it was undisputable that properties in the government-controlled areas had seen a rise in value following the invasion.
Hadjihambis said there was clear discrimination against the owners of occupied properties, which favoured owners in the south.
The occupation of part of the territory of the Republic since 1974 constitutes public burden, which has since been shouldered by the owners of the occupied properties when it should have been equally distributed among all citizens of the Republic.
He argues that the state’s obligation to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights – the right of property in this case – likewise stems from the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Hadjihambis also cites the restitution laws passed in the 1950s in West Germany regulating the restitution of lost property and the payment of damages to victims of Nazi persecutions.