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Turkey has been given alibi to ignore ECHR decisions says Famagusta mayor

The offices of the Immovable Property Commission in the north

The Council of Europe’s ruling to end supervision of a Greek Cypriot refugee’s individual application against Turkey gives Turkey an alibi to not abide by ECHR decisions, Famagusta mayor Simos Ioannou said on Tuesday after speaking with the House refugee committee.

The committee heard that the municipality, alongside MP Costis Efstathiou, is drafting a letter to the CoE asking for the reversal of the decision to end the supervision process in the implementation of a prior European Court of Human Rights ruling regarding Titina Loizidou, who in 1996 won her case against Turkey at the ECHR concerning the restitution and peaceful enjoyment of her property in Kyrenia.

On Thursday, the foreign ministry had expressed disappointment over the decision to end the supervision of Loizidou’s case, saying it was “legally unsound and politically problematic”.

Ioannou said that Famagusta municipality intends to help in the efforts to lift this “unfair and negative” decision, noting that through it, the CoE gave Turkey “an alibi to not abide by the decisions” of the ECHR.

“Our position as the municipality of Famagusta is the official position of the Republic of Cyprus, that is to say that the issue will not be resolved by legal means, but by political means,” he said, adding that nobody can be forced not to go to court, “especially when they are in a bad financial situation and have no support from the state”.

The mayor added that there is also the matter of equal distribution of burdens, “which has to go beyond words so refugees can see this kind of help exists and they don’t have to go to the immovable property commission (IPC)”.

Loizidou, who in 1996 won her case against Turkey at the ECHR concerning the restitution and peaceful enjoyment of her property in Kyrenia, on the northern coast of Cyprus, was told she must head to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) in the north.

Commenting on Loizidou’s case, IPC head Növber Ferit Veçhi said that the decision to end the supervision was “taken too late” and that it was “positive for the TRNC and motherland Turkey”.

Speaking to Anadolu agency, she said that the ECHR has approved the IPC as an effective internal remedy for property disputes and that the ‘law’ pertaining to it has been accepted by the court.

She said that the IPC consists of seven members, two of whom are foreign, who review about 20 application case files every Thursday and try to reach amicable settlements with the applicants. Otherwise, the case is forwarded to court.

Veçhi said that 140 files were reviewed in the past year, two of which resulted in the return of the property, while none resulted in an exchange.

She also claimed that a total of 7,159 applications have been made since the establishment of the commission, with 1,366 resulting in a settlement and 34 in a hearing.

The IPC has so far decided to compensate 1,169 people for the value of their properties, resulting in the return of their property for four applications, exchange-compensation for two applications and return-compensation for eight applications.

For one application, it was decided to return the property after a settlement is found on the Cyprus issue.

Veçhi said that the Cyprus government is doing everything in its power to prevent Greek Cypriots from going to the IPC, adding that Loizidou’s case was actually a pilot attempt by the Republic.

She also claimed that since in 2003 Loizidou was compensated by Turkey, her property is now under ‘TRNC’ ownership according to the ‘law’ pertaining to the IPC, and that she should not have refused applying with the commission.

“Greek Cypriots were asking for the return of Titina Loizidou’s property, insisting on the issue of return for years, but they knew that this was not possible,” she said. “They kept it up to date by maintaining oversight and control over the Loizidou case.

“With this decision, the ECHR conveyed the message that the most effective route is return, compensation and exchange through the IPC,” she finally said.

 

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