02 June 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Menelaos Hadjicostis
Sales of GC properties in north slashed
"SALES of Greek Cypriot property in the occupied north have been slashed by half this year over last, thanks to a government campaign warning foreign nationals of the legal troubles they could face, Interior Minister Andreas Christou said... the campaign’s central message was that selling off property in the north is of no benefit to either community as it would complicate settlement efforts. "...these actions are illegal, they poison the atmosphere and create more problems in the search for a Cyprus solution,"... Nicosia has mounted an international diplomatic offensive to persuade foreign governments that property sales in the north are in breach of international law and UN resolutions... "Foreigners are responsible. We should send the message that this country is not for sale," said Christou."
SALES of Greek Cypriot property in the occupied north have been slashed
by half this year over last, thanks to a government campaign warning
foreign nationals of the legal troubles they could face, Interior
Minister Andreas Christou said.
Christou told the House
Refugee Committee that, far from being vindictive, the campaign’s
central message was that selling off property in the north is of no
benefit to either community as it would complicate settlement efforts.
"Such actions don’t serve the interests of the Cypriot people...there
needs to be a continual reminder that these actions are illegal, they
poison the atmosphere and create more problems in the search for a
Cyprus solution," said Christou.
Disy MP George Georgiou quoted sources saying that the breakaway regime
issued 2,900 property sale ‘permits’ to foreign nationals between
April, 2004 and April, 2005.
He said Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Israeli companies are behind
beachfront construction projects in Famagusta and Vokolida worth an
Georgiou said he recently persuaded a Greek Cypriot man living in
Athens not to put up for sale 5.5 acres of land he owns in Ayios
"There’s little optimism that the occupation regime and developers will
move to suspend mass development of Greek Cypriot property," said
Nicosia has mounted an international diplomatic offensive to persuade
foreign governments that property sales in the north are in breach of
international law and UN resolutions.
Christou said the campaign has produced results. Contributing to that
have been official government advisories in countries such as Ireland
warning citizens that they could face legal action by Greek Cypriots if
they proceed with dubious land purchases.
Two Russian daily newspapers with a circulation of three million each have also carried articles warning against purchases.
Moreover, scores of Greek Cypriots have started taking legal action
against foreign nationals, contractors and real estate agents
implicated in illegal property development.
Christou said the legal barrage in the form of court summonses or
arrest warrants has also unnerved Turkish Cypriots who are seeking
advice on how to shield themselves from possible Greek Cypriot court
Last week, warrants were issued in 118 countries for the arrest of
three Turkish Cypriots and a Briton in connection with illegal property
development in the north.
Christou said the watershed Orams court case was pivotal in
discouraging foreign nationals from buying up Greek Cypriot property in
A court last November ordered Linda and David Orams, from Hove, East
Sussex, to destroy their villa in occupied Lapithos and pay damages to
the Greek Cypriot refugee who owns the property it’s built on.
However, the minister said even a drastic drop in illegal land deals
can be considered as positive as long as Greek Cypriot property in the
north continues to be plundered.
He said some illegal deals may never come to light until a settlement is reached.
Georgiou said his committee would investigate persistent rumours that
Greek Cypriots have made off-the-book property deals with Turkish
"A final settlement to this issue will come with a Cyprus solution, but
this doesn’t mean that until then, we should create more problems
beyond those that already exist," said Christou.
The minister said appealed for "wisdom and calm" so that bitter
feelings over the property issue don’t prevail to turn both communities
against each other.
"Foreigners are responsible. We should send the message that this country is not for sale," said Christou.
Meanwhile, a leading real estate agency in the north has reportedly
trawled the Middle East for more foreign nationals with "no qualms"
about buying up property there.
According to Turkish Cypriot daily Cyprus Times, Hillcrest Estates
staged exhibitions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in search of clients willing
to invest in property.
The paper quoted Hillcrest director Simon Jocham as saying that "hardly
no one" expressed concern about the legal ramifications of property
sales in the north over three "very busy" days.
"Those who know the recent history of Cyprus are happy to invest in a
country that offers such outstanding value for money," said Jocham, who
pitched the occupied north as the "slumbering goldmine" of the emerging
Hillcrest is behind such development projects as a hotel apartment
complex in Akanthou and a golf course in Ayios Amvrosios.
Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi reported that 24 British
businessmen are in the north looking for investment opportunities,
particularly in real estate.
The 24, representing companies including Singh Building Construction,
Davies Developers and Charles Sinclair & Co said the British High
Commission in Nicosia had offered to cover all their expenses if they
entered Cyprus through Larnaca Airport.
However, they refused and opted to fly from Gatwick to illegal Tymbou through Antalya instead.
The businessmen will meet with tourism ‘minister’ Kemal Dervis."