The government is working to upgrade refugee support schemes especially on the housing policy but will not introduce measures especially for Varosha property owners which would in essence absolve Turkey of its obligation to pay compensation for the invasion and occupation, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday.
In an interview with daily Phileleftheros, published in two parts on Sunday and Monday, Anastasiades said regarding Varosha refugees he could not make promises that would not be kept due to financial and legal reasons.
The president was asked whether the government would announce support to refugees with properties in the fenced area of Varosha, 3.5 per cent of which is slated to open for settlement after it was announced Turkey would demilitarise it and pass it over to Turkish Cypriot administration. There have been calls for support to these refugees so that people in need are not forced to sell their properties in Varosha.
The Famagusta Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed their “disappointment and sorrow” over the call by the National Council last week on Varosha refugees not to appeal to the immovable property commission (IPC) set up by Turkey in the north. The National Council had said that such a move, put forward by the Turkish side for those wanting to return, “carries serious risks in relation to Turkey’s goals.
Anastasiades said that a political leader had suggested at the National Council set up a special fund. “But we must calculate what this means in cost but mainly as a political message,” the president said. “We are talking about billions and in the end the Republic of Cyprus will be called upon to pay what Turkey owes as a result of the invasion and occupation.”
He said he would not make any promises that are impossible to keep both because of the financial costs and because of the legal aspect since that would essentially relieve Turkey of its obligation to pay compensation, which is legally substantiated by decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. “What we can and will do is to continue to upgrade our refugee support programmes, especially with regard to housing policy. These programmes are constantly being reviewed and enriched,” he added.
On talk about revoking Cyprus IDs from Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and other officials, Anastasiades said that he believes that some measures can be adopted and if anyone wants to challenge them, they should go to court.
“It is not possible for one who does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and claims that they have their own state to hold the passport of the Republic of Cyprus, to propagandise in favour of cessation and partition of the country,” he said. The Constitution, he said, stipulates that one must be faithful to the constitutional provisions and defend the independence and territorial integrity of their country.
Asked if he was talking about Tatar, he said “and not only, there is a whole list of names.”
Anastasiades clarified that this concerns persons or officials of the current occupation regime and not all the Turkish Cypriots.
Asked if the sides were far from starting talks, Anastasiades said he did not see the UN secretary-general’s report even mentioning the intention to convene talks.
The president said the Turkish side, each time it opens a topic, it is “to gain something” and not to negotiate.
“Therefore, if those who are interested in the solution of the Cyprus problem wanted a change of climate, instead of suggesting people-to-people contacts, or bands or choirs, etc -which are positive, but do not lead anywhere as at the base of the people there is mutual respect – it is good to see what is missing which is none other than the will of Turkey and its subordinates for a solution,” he added.
Anastasiades confirmed he would not run for a third term. He said he was no king to pass on the ring to a successor and that ruling Disy would decide on a candidate through its internal procedures.