Cyprus Mail

Government in constant contact with legal experts on Varosha issue


The government has received a series of legal opinions over the past six months from foreign experts about Varosha, Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides said on Tuesday.

Savvides, speaking to the press after attending the House legal affairs committee, said the issue is predominantly political with some legal implications.

“These are delicate matters,” Savvides said, adding he did not consider it appropriate to provide more information on what, in his opinion should be discussed by those responsible for making political decisions.

He said the legal service is in an open line of contact with a group of internationally renowned experts from whom it receives advice, which it duly transmits to the president and the foreign minister.

“In the last six months we have received a series of opinions from foreign legal experts and whenever something is needed, we are in constant communication with both the president of the Republic and the minister of foreign affairs,” Savvides said.

He added that a very important task of his office was to provide legal support to the competent state services, and in particular to the president and the foreign ministry on matters related to the political issue.

Savvides said he will on Wednesday attend the National Council which will discuss the issue of Varosha ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the north next week and possible negative announcements on the fenced area’s status.

“If I am asked, I will provide more explanations there,” he said. In addition to the open line “depending on the developments on the ground and on the problems and the actions that are taken, we constantly seek and get opinions,” he said.

The government has already said it does not advise Varosha refugees to turn to Turkey’s immovable properties commission (IPC) operating in the north to claim their properties in the fenced area.

With refugees’ concerns soaring on what to do and fears expressed by many they might lose their properties if they do not claim them through the IPC, the government advised people against such a move.

President Nicos Anastasiades said earlier in the month that a possible call by Turkey on refugees to return to their Varosha properties under Turkish Cypriot administration would be a trap since Turkish Cypriot religious endowment foundation Evkaf, that alleges that most of the fenced area belongs to it, would claim that property.

Erdogan is expected to make announcements concerning Varosha, but no one is certain what these might be. Turkish Cypriot daily Yeniduzen reported this week that it is expected that the fenced area of Varosha, which is currently a military area, will be turned into a civilian one. Such a development would pave the way for the settlement of residents.

So far, part of the fenced area, public areas and beaches, has been opened to visitors but no private property has been touched.

In the meantime, according to reports in the north, the association of Turkish Cypriot refugees with properties in the government-controlled areas, citing their property rights, ask that they are given priority in the distribution of properties of equal value with the ones they left behind in the south. They said they would hold a meeting in the coming days with Evkaf’s director to discuss whether properties claimed by the endowment foundation can be used as resources for this purpose.

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