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Tatar says 344 IPC Varosha applications so far

Feature Evie The Varosha Coastline (evie Andreou)
The Varosha coastline

Turkish Cypriot authorities say they expect 3,000 Greek Cypriots to file applications with the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) in the north over their properties in the fenced area of Varosha.

There was initial confusion as to exactly how many Varosha refugees have filed a claim with the IPC after Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar’s said the Commission had received 3,000 since it was established. His office later clarified on Monday evening that the number was 344, but added that an anticipated 3,000 applications would be filed for claims over properties in the 3,525,175 square-metre fenced area of Varosha.

It added that the north has paved the way for all rightful owners, including Evkaf that manages religious property endowments, to seek remedies for their properties through the IPC.

The statement also said that this would lead to the inclusion of Varosha, which, it added, “is the territory of the TRNC” back to life in accordance with international law.
It added that the Turkish Cypriot side’s goal was to reopen the fenced-off town “that is undisputedly under the sovereignty and the administration of the TRNC” in the best interest of the entire island. “In this sense, we cannot take a step back,” it added.

According to reports in the north, 150,000 people visited the part of the fenced area of Varosha that opened to visitors last October.

Turkish Cypriot daily Avrupa reported on Tuesday that only 28 applications have been submitted to IPC since the announcement that Varosha would be opened under Turkish Cypriot administration. There were only 344 applications since 2006, the daily reports.

The IPC is the organisation set up by Turkey and operating in the north as the domestic remedy for claims relating to abandoned properties in the north based on the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The government has repeatedly called on Varosha refugees not to turn to the IPC arguing this would help speed up Turkish plans for the fenced area and would be the last nail in the coffin of the Cyprus problem.

Others, however, beg to differ, including lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, who has long experience with refugee property claims, and who called on owners of property in Varosha’s coastal front to file their claims with the IPC for their right to return. This, Demetriades argues would thwart Turkey’s plans to get hold of these properties.

Another issue concerning Varosha is Evkaf’s claims that most of Varosha are its own according to title deeds issued between 1571 and 1974, an argument the government has shot down. Evkaf, however, continues to dispute previous agreements.

Evkaf’s Director-General Ibrahim Benter, held on Monday a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot ‘mayor’ of Famagusta Ismail Arter. In a statement, it was noted that Benter and Arter discussed the situation of the Evkaf properties in the fenced-off town of Varosha.

The British colonial government had given the Turkish Cypriot community £1.5m sterling, for complete and final settlement of all its claims, including those of the Evkaf high council, as part of the independence arrangements.

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