Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Letters

To: ITV
05 June 2009
Mediterranean Nightmares television programme

I have read the following comment about this programme on the TV guide on your website and even though, I welcome the interest of ITV on this subject, I must admit I find it quite misleading:

 

“Many Greek Cypriots were forced to flee when the island was partitioned in 1974 and thousands of properties have since been sold by the new Turkish residents, in some cases to Britons wanting holiday homes. A recent landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice decrees one such holiday home owner must return his land to its original resident. Mike Nicholson investigates whether others could lose properties in the same way.”

 

When reading this, one would form the opinion that just a few Greek Cypriots were forced to move and that the partition of the island was somewhat agreed or legitimate. This is a million miles from the truth. A more accurate reflection of the truth is as follows:

 

Turkey invaded the north part of the island twice in succession (20 July and 14 August 1974). As a result of these double invasions 200,000 people, one third of the population, one of them myself, were forced to flee and settle in the free areas of the Republic and around the world. These refugees were mainly Greek Cypriots, but also Maronite, Latins and many British expatriates who had settled in the beautiful northern coastal towns and villages. The island was not ‘partitioned’ by legitimate means. It was invaded and occupied in a massive military operation by Turkey, one that caused huge loss of life, destruction and suffering to innocent people. Turkey now has an army of occupation numbering 40,000, larger than the US army in Afghanistan, in order to maintain the division and prevent the refugees from returning to their homes. Furthermore the so called ‘Turkish residents’ include thousands of colonists or Turkish settlers, transplanted from Turkey and the Balkans and who were then ‘handed’ the properties of the refugees. The latest estimates put these colonists close to 160,000, a number far higher than the indigenous Turkish Cypriots. Finally the properties were not ‘sold’ just by ‘Turkish residents’ but mostly by unscrupulous developers who have been building furiously on every piece of land belonging to the refugees, despite the fact that many previous cases such as the Loizidou vs Turkey case at the European Court of Human Rights, in 1996, confirmed that the refugees are still the legal owners of their properties and that any titles to their land issued by the regime – referred to in the judgment as a ‘subordinate authority under the control of Turkey – had no validity or jurisdiction under international law. So those selling and buying properties belonging to the refugees should be fully aware at the illegality of their actions.

 

Therefore, in my opinion, an accurate comment would have been as follows “200,000 Cypriots were forced to flee when the island was invaded by Turkey in 1974 and the northern 37 percent of its territory was occupied. Thousands of properties have since been sold illegally by unscrupulous developers and ‘Turkish residents’. 95 percent of all buyers are Britons wanting cheap holiday homes. A recent landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice decrees one such holiday home owner must return his land to its original resident. Mike Nicholson investigates whether others could lose properties in the same way.”

 

I obviously do not know the entire content of the programme, but I genuinely hope that it is impartial, takes into real consideration international and EU law and that Mr Nicholson, one of the first reporters to cover the Turkish invasion in 1974, has a good memory of events that led to the occupation and devastation of our beautiful island.