Lawmakers on Tuesday harangued the government for leaving refugees renting premises on Turkish Cypriot land in the south out to dry.
Livestock farmers in the Nisou area, whose premises lie on Turkish Cypriot land, were asked to evacuate after the land was returned to the Turkish Cypriot owner.
Skevi Koukouma, chair of the House refugees committee, said that in 2014 the Greek Cypriot farmers were notified that their lease with the state – to whom they paid a token rent for use – was being terminated.
The state then advised the farmers to deal directly with the Turkish Cypriot landowner and come to an arrangement with him regarding his demands for rent payment, including retroactive payments.
It’s understood the Turkish Cypriot owner seeks the business rate for rent, rather than the rate for land usage alone.
Koukouma complained that the state has “abandoned” these people – the refugees – noting that on the land in question the state has made expenditures, such as building infrastructures, roads, pavements and so forth.
“The state has turned these land plots into crafts zones or areas for livestock breeding, therefore it has obligations toward these people. So the state itself should act as mediator in resolving the matter.”
A similar situation exists at a refugee self-housing settlement in Polemidia.
And in a self-housing settlement in Dromolaxia, the Turkish Cypriot owner is apparently suing all the refugees and demanding the return of the land as it was prior to 1974.
“The state has let these people get dragged to court, instead of providing a clear solution. As a result refugees feel that they risk losing their home, and some are ending up in court… in their majority these are elderly householders who are being inconvenienced in this way.”
Answering questions, an official from the Turkish Cypriot Properties Management Service said that currently it is not the interior ministry’s policy to carry out expropriations.
Rather, the official noted, the matter should be resolved via amicable negotiation and out-of-court settlements.
The interior minister acts as the ‘guardian’ of Turkish Cypriot properties in the south. The Turkish Cypriot Properties Management Service within the ministry manages these properties until a solution to the Cyprus problem is found.