The ‘government’ in the north has secured £68 million sterling (€79 million) to pay compensation to Greek Cypriots who applied to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) and whose claims were processed by the end of 2020, it emerged on Friday.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, the funding was secured through a property tax and a low-interest loan. Halkin Sesi reported the securing of the money was considered “an economic and political success”.

It said that while there were numerous more applications filed after 2020, the €68 million would fully clear around 200 claims where a decision had been reached to compensate by the end of 2020. The payments are to be made without further delay within two or three months.

The IPC is recognised by the European Court of Human Rights as a domestic remedy for property disputes in Cyprus that arise as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Halkin Sesi said that as of April 22, 2024, a total of 7,549 applications have been made to the IPC of which 1,759 have been concluded and the owners compensated. Around 6,000 are still pending.

The main source of funding for the IPC has been the sale of real estate to foreigners, which brought in around £10 million in a short space of time, and which is increasing. In addition, the north’s ‘central bank’ and the ‘government’, managed to secure the rest of the funding.

The report also said that the number of applications increased after 2020. According to the IPC website, 893 claims have been filed since then and up until this month. This is likely due to the fact that in 2020, the Turkish Cypriot leadership declared it was opening up the fenced-off area of Famagusta known as Varosha, which has existed as a ghost town controlled by the Turkish military since 1974.

The Cyprus government discourages Greek Cypriot refugees from filing to the IPC because it was always understood that Varosha in particular would be returned to its rightful owners under a Cyprus settlement. Greek Cypriots relinquishing their property for compensation would create a new fait accompli on the ground.

Halkin Sesi said the announcement about the payment of the compensation was made suddenly and was radical because the applications had been piling up as the IPC occasionally ran out of money.

“This radical step concerns the purchase of thousands of acres of new land. ‘Prime Minister’ Ustell has announced that approximately £68 million will be paid within 2-3 months for almost 200 applications processed until the end of 2020 with a compensation decision and do not involve litigation,” the paper said. It added that Turkey supported the decision.