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Our View: Politicians always remember refugees when elections are nigh

morphou the buildings in morphou are almost all rundown
File photo of Morphou area

Almost half a century after the Turkish invasion, the political parties decided that the people who benefited through the big increase in the value of properties in the free areas should contribute towards supporting people who owned real estate is in the Turkish-held north. The law, which was backed by all the parties, would impose a 0.4 per cent levy on every property transaction and the money raised would be shared among the people whose immovable property is in the north, by the body grandly known as the Agency for the Equitable Share of Burdens.

That such a body still exists 47 years after the invasion is testament to its failure. If all these years after the invasion it has failed to secure the equitable share of the burdens, something that should have been settled 20 years ago, it will not do now. What is even more bizarre is that the political parties have only just realised that the agency needs funds to end the unequitable share of burdens brought about by the occupation. Could the above-mentioned tax have anything to do with the approaching parliamentary elections and party competition for the ‘refugee’ vote?

Politicians always remember the refugees when elections are nigh and now there is a stronger reason to pander to them, as the prospects of a settlement that would have allowed a sizeable amount to claim back their properties or be compensated for them, have all but disappeared. The politicians, who are mainly to blame for this, have come under attack and there have been some calls that all those that have benefited from the soaring land prices in the free areas, as a result of the occupation, should in some way compensate the people who had lost out because their properties are in the north.

This is the thinking behind the 0.4 per cent tax on all transactions which is estimated to raise between 16 to 20 million euro, an amount that is nowhere near enough for even partially compensating the people who lost their properties or ensuring the equitable share of burdens. It is nothing more than a small gesture, made all the more necessary as the government has been trying to dissuade property owners from applying to the Immovable Property Commission in the north for compensation. With the Turks planning on opening Varosha, many people are now considering applying to the commission.

We are seeing yet another feeble attempt to deal with the consequences of our politicians’ refusal to agree a settlement. There will be plenty more such attempts in the future that will always fall in the category of too little too late.

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