Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Media Watch 2005

07 April 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Simon Bahceli
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 7 April 2005.
UK developer ‘unaware complex was on Greek Cypriot land’
"THE HEAD of the UK-based Lewis Trust Group (LTG) that has taken over a project to turn a 270-donum plot of Greek Cypriot-owned land in the Karpas peninsula into a high-class tourist resort says he did not know the land on which he will build was Greek Cypriot."

THE HEAD of the UK-based Lewis Trust Group (LTG) that has taken over a project to turn a 270-donum plot of Greek Cypriot-owned land in the Karpas peninsula into a high-class tourist resort says he did not know the land on which he will build was Greek Cypriot.

“I was not aware of this,” Lewis told the Cyprus Mail, but added that, “if they [Greek Cypriots] get the land back, they will be entitled to the rent. I see this as a form of natural justice”.

Port Barbaros, as the project is called, was originally the brain child of Turkish Cypriot businesswoman and one time close associate of Asil Nadir, Sidika Atalay. Although still in the planning stage, it will now become part of LTG’s vast portfolio of business activities across the globe that include projects in the tourism, clothing, real estate and finance sectors. The LTG portfolio also contains the well-known River Island clothing chain.

The development of the Karpas village of Yialousa envisages a massive complex housing a marina, a four and a five-star hotel, two spas, a conference centre, a casino and a number of bars and restaurants.

According to Atalay’s plans, the resort will aim at the higher income end of the tourism market – something she believes will greatly benefit the local economy.
Lewis believes, however, the project could eventually also benefit the original Greek Cypriot owners of the land.

“The project will benefit the freeholders. At the moment the TRNC government is the freeholder, but that might change in the future,” he said.

Lewis added that he doubted the original owners would object to the project since the land on which it is to be built was unsuitable for other purposes.

“The land is standing there empty. It is not farming land.”

Asked whether he harboured worries the site could be contested by Greek Cypriots claiming ownership, Lewis said, “I am sympathetic to anyone dispossessed of their lands as a result of the invasion. They, Greek or Turkish Cypriot, should be compensated or get their lands back.”

With LTG’s high international profile, the project is likely to raise eyebrows. It is by far the biggest investment by non-Turkish foreign investors in the north. It is rumoured LTG paid around $10 million for the plans and the lease of the land.
The LTG website claims the Lewis family, which founded the company, is one of Britain’s wealthiest.

“LTG is an investment company that operates retail stores, real estate, a wealth management company, and hotels. The company's 300 River Island retail stores are geared toward young people, while its Cavendish Asset Management arm attracts a more mature crowd. The group's real estate unit has more than 300 million sq. ft. under management in the UK and US. Lewis Trust Group's hotel operation comprises more than 20 hotels in Israel and Spain. The Lewis family owns a large majority of the company; Managing Director Bernard Lewis holds the biggest chunk”."