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Russian and Israeli investments in the north raise concerns

One of the projects of Afik Group in Trikomo
File photo: One of the projects in Trikomo

Russian and Israeli investments in property in the north are continuing with seemingly no let-up in sight.

The area of Long Beach, just outside the sleepy village of Trikomo, has been transformed in recent years by large numbers of high-rise apartment blocks being constructed mostly for Russian and Israeli buyers.

Investment is not restricted to Long Beach, however, and the investments have driven up the cost of property across the north, pricing out many Turkish Cypriots.

This has attracted the attention of Turkish Cypriot politicians, with ‘parliamentary’ opposition leader Tufan Erhurman highlighting the issue in ‘parliament’ last month.

He said, “the number of third country nationals in this country and the speed of property acquisition have increased terribly since the pandemic, to the extent that there is not even a single domestic buyer in Trikomo, Ayios Amvrosios, or Akanthou”.

In an earlier television interview, he elaborated on the issue, saying “third country nationals determine the prices of housing, cars, barber shops, pharmacies, fuel, and markets, not us. There is nowhere else like this in the world”.

However, the countries themselves seem to have little will to stop this from happening.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the issue to Antenna on Thursday, saying “we do not have a policy of restricting Israeli businesspeople. They can go anywhere in the world and that is what they do”.

He added that the only restriction placed on Israeli businesses by the Israeli government is in countries with which Israel is at war.

Russia, too, is not standing in the way of its citizens who wish to invest in the north,

The country maintains its intentions to “begin providing consular services in the very near future” in the north, with its foreign ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova saying on Thursday that such a move “is in line with national interests”.

The north’s ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel informed ‘parliament’ of his intention to bring in restrictions, though it is not yet clear what these restrictions may be.

“We will not sit by and watch this happen … When we look at Ayios Amvrosios, Vasileia, that is, in most parts of the island, foreigners come and buy houses here”, he said.

He added, “I visited all the [affected] regions, I saw what was happening and formed a committee to take immediate action. First of all, this is a fact: there is unplanned construction in our country. Yes, the demand from abroad to buy our land has increased. We are working on how we can prevent this”.

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