Property commission to be established on Cyprus

EMRE DINER
NICOSIA
Published 03.09.2015 21:06

Along with the Property Commission, which is to be created to help with the Cyprus negotiations and go into effect after the resolution, a property court is to be established in Cyprus. The court will be the top authority on the resolution of the problems regarding property issues.

Another important turn was attained regarding the issue of property, which is among the six main topics of the Cyprus negotiations. Comprising of three stages, the property issue was split into categories. Now it is time to finalize the criteria and determine the best way to distribute the properties of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in the new federation with the formation of a property commission. In conjunction with the property commission, a property court addressing both communities on the island is to be composed.

The property court will enable the citizens, who happen to object to the decisions of the property commission, to claim their rights through domestic law. It will issue decisions with the aim of resolving problems and averting possible unjust treatment to property owners. If citizens are not satisfied with the decisions issued by the court, they will have the right to litigate before the European Court of Human Rights.

While the property work groups, composed as part of the negotiations, are endeavoring to issue a series of decisions during the meetings they conduct individually and together, negotiators and leaders are also investing a great deal of time and energy into the issue. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriots reportedly prefer recompense to exchange and return in the process, and recompense would be demanded more during the normalization process of the new federation, and a stance to lead the decisions in that direction was adopted. When the 6,209 files are submitted to the Immovable Property Commission between March 2006 and September 2015 are considered, it will be shown that the Greek Cypriots mostly prefer recompense for the resolution of the issue of properties they left in the north of the island.

Before 1974, 80 percent of the land in Northern Cyprus, which has a surface area of 3,325 square meters, belonged to Greek Cypriots. In Northern Cyprus, acre is the unit of measurement used in private properties. In this framework, the lands in Northern Cyprus consist of 2,400,000 acres, and one acre corresponds to 1,335 square meters. According to the land registry records before 1974, this is the share of properties in Northern Cyprus:

Greek property: 1,550,000 acres

Turkish property: 380,000 acres

Public property: 470,000 acres (mountains, roads)

Property belonging to Turks in Southern Cyprus: 450,000 acres

While Northern Cyprus built up the Greek lands it seized, the Greeks left the 450,000 acres of Turkish property empty and unused, rendering the land valueless by avoiding infrastructure investment. The Greek Cypriots do not recognize the title deed transactions of Northern Cyprus and do not recognize the new owners of the lands that change hands as current owners.

Political tensions on the long-divided island have eased since talks resumed on May 15.

On May 28, leaders agreed on a five-step plan to resolve the Cyprus issue following a meeting hosted by the UN special adviser for Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide. These steps included opening more crossing points, interconnecting power grids, allowing cellphone interoperability on both sides of the island, resolving the issue of radio frequency conflicts and forming a joint committee on gender equality.Peace talks were unilaterally suspended by Greek Cyprus last October after Turkey sent an exploratory ship on behalf of Turkish Cyprus for seismic research off the coast of Greek Cyprus.

The island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the northern third and a Greek Cypriot government in the southern two-thirds of the island after a 1974 military coup by Greece was followed by an intervention by Turkey as a guarantor state. Border gates between Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus were opened on April 2003.

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