The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) invited the Turkish side to submit written observations in a case that involves a Greek Cypriot property in Varosha, the fenced-off part of Famagusta. The case, concerning a company’s loss of use of its property located in the area that Turkey sealed off 45 years ago, became more complex as EVKAF, the directorate administrating Muslim pious foundations in Cyprus, claimed to have a stake in properties throughout Varosha. After these developments, the company took recourse to the ECHR.
At the same time, a declassified document from 1960 shows that Turkish Cypriot claims from the British colonial government, for compensation for the maladministration of vakf property, stood almost at 4 mln pounds, with the Turkish Cypriot side acknowledging that “it would have been impossible for the [colonial] Government to restore” the properties EVKAF lost during British rule in Cyprus.
The final amount agreed with the Turkish Cypriot community, at the time Cyprus gained its independence, was eventually settled at 1.5 mln pounds, according to Appendix U of the Treaty establishing the Republic of Cyprus.
Achilleas Demetriades, the lawyer of “K.V. Mediterranean Tours”, told CNA that no friendly settlement has been reached with the Turkish side and the application before the ECHR continues. He added that the Turkish side has time until November 4 to submit its observations. As the lawyer learns, the Republic of Cyprus was also invited to say whether it will be part of the process or not.
The case started on July 23, 2010, when the company applied to the ‘immovable property commission’ (IPC) operating in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, asking for the restitution of the building complex it owns and to be compensated for the loss of use. The process stagnated in 2016 after the “supreme court” of the illegal pseudo state ruled that EVKAF should be included as a litigant in the process.
EVKAF claims that the said property belongs to the “Abdullah Pasa Foundation” administered by the organization and should therefore be included in the process before the ‘IPC’. The argument was rejected by the company and “K.V. Mediterranean Tours” applied to the ECHR.
Demetriades says that an interesting aspect of this case is whether the Republic of Cyprus decides to take part in the process, not just to back the case with legal arguments but also to present an official evaluation by the Department of Lands and Surveys for the loss of use.
Compensation claimed for 4 mln. Was limited to 1.5 mln pounds
As for EVKAF’s claim that it has a stake in Greek Cypriot properties located in Varosha, Demetriades says that all claims by the Turkish Cypriot community, including those of the High Council of EVKAF, were settled with the British with 1.5 mln pounds in 1960.
According to Appendix U of the Treaty Concerning the Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, Fazıl Küçük and Rauf Denktaş confirmed that they have “no financial claims against the government of the United Kingdom, or against the Government of the colony of Cyprus, arising or purporting to arise out of or in connection with either the administration of Cyprus or the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus or otherwise, and that no such claims will be made hereafter by or on behalf of the Turkish community.”
Demetriades also points to the 1960 declassified document from the Foreign Office archives, dated January 13, 1960, which circulated at the request of the Turkish Cypriot side for the consideration of the Joint Committee on Cyprus, before independence.
According to this report, the Turkish Cypriot community suffered substantial loss and damage as a result of the EVKAF regime imposed by the British Administration in Cyprus and policy followed concerning vakf properties and submitted a formal claim for compensation.
The 1960 report cites among the main reasons for its claim that vakf properties were not properly registered with the Land Registration Office, as a result of which a good many immovable properties were wasted.
Moreover, it is noted that the delegates of EVKAF, appointed by the colonial administration, failed to comply with the principles of Moslem Sacred Laws relating to vakfs, which entailed great material loss to EVKAF.
The report also refers to the efforts of the British Administration to remedy in part the situation, by enacting a legislation in 1944, providing thus the payment of 2,230 pounds pen annum to EVKAF as compensation.
For the Turkish Cypriot side, this compensation was not based on adequate and equitable assessment. If not settled otherwise, the liability will have to be assumed by the Republic of Cyprus, it was added.
Furthermore, the report says that soon after the administration of EVKAF was handed over to the Turkish Cypriot Community, the High Council of EVKAF took up the question of the assessment of the compensation for vakf properties.
“As it would have been impossible for the Government to restore the above-mentioned ‘vakf’ properties to ‘Evcaf’, the Turkish Community justifiably claimed from the present [British] Government the revision of the assessment of the compensation provided for under the said law [of 1944] which was highly inadequate and unrealistic” the report says.
According to the Turkish Cypriot side, the said compensation should be capitalized after the revision on an equitable and realistic basis and that “a lump sum should be paid to EVKAF.” However, before the whole matter could be settled, the Zurich and London agreements were concluded, it is noted.
According to the provisional pecuniary assessment, the general and specific damage to EVKAF suffered by the Turkish Cypriot community during colonial rule was estimated at about 3 mln pounds. Moreover, the capitalized amount of compensation payable in respect of abolished vakf properties was estimated at about 900,000 pounds.
The Turkish Cypriot side expressed finally its desire to settle the claims before the transfer of sovereignty on the island.
Demetriades says that the British negotiated the sum of the compensation, from 4 mln down to 1.5 mln pounds. Of this amount, half a million pounds were transferred to a joint account of Fazıl Küçük and Rauf Denktaş for the urgent needs of their community and the remaining 1 mln was given to the Turkish Communal Chamber, settling thus all claims. According the lawyer, the question is why this claim is being revived again after so many years. He concludes by saying that people in Cyprus still don’t know what happened to the money transferred to Küçük and Denktaş, as part of this settlement.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results.
The European Court of Human Rights sentenced Turkey in numerous cases, brought forward by Greek Cypriots, concerning the violation of their fundamental human rights, following the 1974 invasion, with regards to their property.
Varosha , the fenced – off part of the once thriving holiday resort of Famagusta, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, has been sealed since the 1974 Turkish invasion and according to the UN, the Turkish military is responsible for it. Repeated attempts to hand the area to UN administration and its Greek Cypriot legal inhabitants have so far failed due to the stance of the Turkish army.