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Media Watch 2006

08 September 2006
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Simon Bahceli
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 8 September 2006.
‘The reasoning of the judgement was flawed’
"the British High Court ruling did not in any way legalise the illegal purchase of Greek Cypriot property in the occupied areas. 'On the contrary, it certifies that the illegally occupied Greek Cypriot property belongs to its legitimate inhabitants and that any purchaser or exploiter of this property is violating another's ownership.'"

"THE LAWYER of dispossessed Greek Cypriot property owner Meletis Apostolides pledged yesterday to fight on after Wednesday’s defeat at the British High Court in London.

Apostolides lost his battle to win back his property through the courts after a UK judge ruled that an earlier Nicosia court decision to evict British couple Linda and David Orams from his Lapithos property was unenforceable.

“Our appeal will be prepared and filed at the earliest possible date,” Apostolides’ lawyer Constantis Canounas declared at a news conference yesterday.

Candounas said his client had lost on only one count, and that “the reasoning of the judgement was flawed”, because the point on which he lost was a reference to protocol 10 of Cyprus’ accession treaty to the EU.

“Protocol 10 says the acquis [European law] is suspended in those areas of the Republic of Cyprus where the Republic of Cyprus government does not have effective control,” Candounas explained, adding that the protocol had been added to Cyprus’ accession treaty because the Cypriot government did not was to be held responsible by the EU for events that happened in the north outside of its control.

But rather than protecting the Republic, it seems the UK judge’s interpretation of the protocol means that protocol 10 has, in effect, protected those in the north buying and selling Greek Cypriot properties.

Candounas said his job now was to compile documents that would convince an appeals court that Wednesday’s decision was reached as a wrong interpretation of protocol 10.

“I understand this material exists,” he said, expressing confidence that once the protocol 10 impasse had been eradicated “the Orams won’t have a single argument left”.

Candounas insisted Apostolides’ battle to win back his property was far from over, and said Wednesday’s loss, while being “a disappointment”, was only the first in three stages that would lead to the Greek Cypriot’s return to Lapithos.

“Let me remind you that Loizidou also lost initially and then won. I don’t think this first judgement is anything to go by.”

Asked to react to the possibility that his and his client’s attempt to evict the Orams through the UK courts could inadvertently lead to a resurgence of the north Cyprus property boom, Candounas was adamant that he had not damaged the chances of other Greek Cypriots permanently losing their properties as land developers cash in on the ruling.

“Had Apostolides not filed his case, we wouldn’t have seen the slowdown in the property business in the north,” he said, adding that “nothing has been lost”.

“It has now been established for the first time by a UK court that what these people are doing is illegal. Someone would be ill advised to think this opens the way to investors [in Greek Cypriot properties in the north]”.

Candounas ruled out assertions by some that the British High Court had been biased in its handling of the case by saying, “Just because we’ve lost, that does not take away our trust [in the UK legal system]. To talk of bias, I’m not willing to go there.”

Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said yesterday the British High Court ruling did not in any way legalise the illegal purchase of Greek Cypriot property in the occupied areas.

''On the contrary, it certifies that the illegally occupied Greek Cypriot property belongs to its legitimate inhabitants and that any purchaser or exploiter of this property is violating another's ownership,'' he added.

Speaking after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Pashiardis said the European Court of Justice would have the last word on the issue

And he warned that those occupying or intending to purchase Greek Cypriot property in the north were still committing a crime and were not in any way covered by the British court's ruling.

Pashiardis also dismissed Turkish Cypriot claims that individual legal action in the property issue could hinder efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, noting that ''the prospects of a Cyprus settlement are not affected by the exercising of personal rights but by the lack of good will and political will for a solution.''

The spokesman pointed out that it was not the Greek Cypriot side that lacked this political will."