Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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02 February 2009
European courts again find for absent Greek Cypriot property owners
"The question is not whether or not the properties in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus still belong to the refugees who fled after the Turkish invasion of 1974, they clearly do."

London, 2 February 2009 – "The question is not whether or not the properties in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus still belong to the refugees who fled after the Turkish invasion of 1974, they clearly do." said Theo Theodorou, spokesman for Lobby for Cyprus. "The real question is why Turkey continues to behave like some delusional Walter Mitty figure and pretends to the outside world that it can do as it seems fit with the property that is stolen.  Every court that has ever looked at the issue has come to the same conclusion.  Greek Cypriot property in the occupied north of Cyprus still belongs to those Greek Cypriots and not to any person that Turkey sells it to."

Theodorou was citing four recent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as well as the studied opinion of Juliane Kokott, Advocate General to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in which the legal claims by absent property owners were upheld.

Theodorou explained that following a lower court's decision that Linda and David Orams had the right to own and build on property belonging to a Greek Cypriot refugee and following the owner's appeal of the decision, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales had requested a legal opinion from the European Court of Justice.  Earlier, the Nicosia District Court, in the Republic of Cyprus, had ruled that the Orams should demolish their house, return the land, and pay "rent" for the time they lived there.

Juliane Kokott, its Advocate General, has now advised the ECJ that the Nicosia court "has jurisdiction in relation to the property dispute, irrespective of the fact that the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control over Northern Cyprus."

Her opinion is not binding on the European court's judges, but in almost all cases they follow her recommendations.

Specifically, Theodorou said, Ms Kokott was asked to interpret the European Union's Brussels Regulation in this case--regulation dealing with the recognition and enforcement of judgements issued by courts in other EU-member states.

In her opinion, the Advocate General said, that the fact that the Nicosia court's "judgement cannot actually be enforced at this time does not, in the Advocate General's opinion, relieve courts in other member states from the obligation to recognise and enforce the judgement."  

"Yet another court has pronounced on the rights of the refugees," Theodorou said, "and this should be another warning to those who have bought or are seeking to buy property in the north of Cyprus that they will lose their money and could be parties to criminal acts."

He explained the Human Rights Court's decisions in the four cases that decided against Turkey.  They involved the applicants' right of access to their property in the occupied north of Cyprus, citing Article 1, in all four cases, and, in two cases, Article 8, as well.  The Court, said Theodorou, held that the question of the application of Article 41 (just satisfaction) was not ready for decision in any of the cases.

"All these cases were brought against Turkey and, in its decisions, the Court thus has yet again refused to recognise the so-called government in the north," Theodorou said.  "Turkey obviously plans to concrete over Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied area and sell anything that is built on this land to non-Cypriot buyers.  However, those buyers must take note of all of these legal developments and be prepared to face the inevitable consequences of their illegal purchase which could include losing their own properties in their home country."

Theodorou advised anyone thinking of buying property in the north of Cyprus to contact Lobby at 020 8888 2556 for more information about these and earlier decisions by the ECHR all of which have been in favour of the absentee owners. He added that because the 43,000-man Turkish army of occupation prevents the legitimate owners of the properties to return to their homes, does not mean that they have relinquished title to their properties.

Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political organisation, based in the UK, dedicated to the unification of the island through the removal of the 43,000-man Turkish army, the repatriation of the 160,000 Anatolian colonists imported into the north contrary to all international laws, and the return of all refugees to their homes.

Any enquiries, contact Lobby for Cyprus on tel: 020 8888 2556, or e-mail: admin@lobbyforcyprus.org