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TC property concern comes after years of exploitation

The chaos created when thousands of families fled the Turkish army in 1974 and struggled to find somewhere to stay, feed their children, and find missing relatives resulted in conditions that were ripe for looting.

Paphos Mayor Fedonas Fedonos has gone the police with information on wrongdoinings connected to the use of Turkish Cypriot property in the town.

Many Turkish Cypriots abandoned their homes and properties in the south from the start with the others following suit within two years of the invasion.

It should be noted that use of Turkish Cypriot property and land in the south is given only until the current situation ends. The property would be immediately returned to the original owners once a solution is in place.

A Turkish Cypriot provided an alternative to living in a tent and many people who were in real need were helped. Others also made the most of their knowledge of homes, shops and arable land left behind by their Turkish Cypriot owners, including residences that became holiday homes, Phileleftheros reported on Saturday.

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Insiders managed to get the best and did not have to spend much to make them livable but others say they have spent thousands. According to recently published figures, 759 Turkish Cypriot homes were allocated to displaced Greek Cypriots as holiday homes and 583 to non-refugees.

There were also tenants who rented houses and other premises owned by Turkish Cypriots before the Turkish invasion and continued to use them after the invasion, accounting for some 40% of Turkish Cypriot property in Paphos. Unfortunately the figure also includes people who used backdated fake tenancy documents to make it appear they had been using them before the invasion.

Taking advantage of the situation continued until 1991 when relevant legislation was passed and the administration of  Turkish Cypriot property was undertaken by the respective Minister of the Interior as the guardian of these properties. And, even after this, it was not completely eclipsed with some officials favouring applicants from the same political party as them.

A lack of specific criteria at time– something which has only now started to change–and with so much left to the ministry’s discretion left a lot of room for maneuver.

Rents also stayed far lower than the market price even when the properties were used by embassies and large companies.

Agricultural land was also used with 1,825,447 square meters going to one person and only reduced to 884,622 after a complaint. Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, meanwhile insists the person using the land does still not meet the relevant criteria.

To some extent, the chaos that prevailed could be brought under control now the system is being computerised but gaps remaining including on whether someone using a property in one district also has property in another.

Others benefit from buying property from the Turkish Cypriot owners and, just a few months later selling it on, in some cases making millions of euro in profit.

In one case referred to by Michaelides, a company bought three pieces of Turkish Cypriot land for €6,492,685 and sold them for €16,513,633 making a profit of €10 million.

Subletting and the sale of goodwill has also occurred over the years, in violation to the relevant law, while some people have gained use of more than one property, again in violation of the law.

Parliament recently learned that the total value of Turkish Cypriot property in the south comes to €6 billion. Millions of euro in taxpayers money is spent on maintaining it every year.

For Turkish Cypriot residences used for permanent residence, 4,245 were given to refugees and 492 to non-refugees. In addition, 2,205 business premises were granted to refugees, while non-refugees were provided with 626 facilities.

At the same time, 1,032 refugees and 885 non-refugees were given use of isolated areas (for the construction of houses, commercial premises, livestock plots, quarries, public utilities, stadiums, groves, parking  areas, etc.).

 

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