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Turkish Cypriots expect property compensation cases to rise

By Kyriacos Kiliaris

The Immovable Property Commission (IPC) in the north – charged with compensating those who lost their property during 1974 – expects that the number of Greek Cypriots applying for compensation will increase over the coming weeks.

Ayfer Erkmen, the head of the commission, has said that after the collapse of the peace talks in Crans-Montana last month, hopes of a settlement have diminished, and more Greek Cypriots will be looking to be compensated through the IPC after numbers dropped.

However, as Erkmen told Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis, the IPC is having difficulties in paying out compensations allocated, as the coalition in the north is not executing their duty towards the Commission.

The head of the IPC said the problem stems from Turkey not providing the necessary funds to the body in the way it used to do.

Turkey, however, prior to providing additional funds to the IPC, demands the implementation of legislative amendments to allow the Turkish Cypriot authorities to contribute to the compensations paid out.

The regulation in question has been dubbed the “contribution law” and has been pending for discussion by the assembly since 2014.

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Erkmen said that in order to be able to settle the remaining applications which are currently outstanding, the IPC is in need of £2 billion.

Subsequently, the number of applications put forward by the Greek Cypriots had reduced significantly, said the head of the IPC.

Erkmen noted that there had been a boom in the number of the applications following the Demopoulos decision in 2010, when the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recognised the rights of people living on Greek Cypriot properties.

But while in 2010 there were 397 applications filed, rising to 926 in 2011, in 2014 numbers dropped to 375, in 2015 to 182, and were down to 50 last year.

In an earlier interview given in July, Erkmen had said Ankara had “shot itself in the foot” by not paying up.

“According to decisions taken from 2014 onwards, Turkey must pay a total of £55 million for 133 cases. They have not paid anything. Some of the complainants have taken the matter to the ECHR,” Erkmen elaborated.

He argued the payments should continue, claiming that they – the Turkish Cypriot side – are obtaining land at a very low price. “Just think: we are paying £10.7 per square metre – that is £14,372 per acre.”

Erkmen also argues that paying off the compensation allocated would go a long way toward solving the property issue.

“The more land we obtain, the less of a problem it will be.”

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