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Documents refute claim Varosha belongs to Efkaf

July 31, 2019 at 5:03pm
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The British government had paid half a million pounds to a joint account under Fazil Kutchuk and the late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, as part of a 1.5 million pound settlement which underlined that no claims would be made thereafter by the Turkish Cypriot community.

Lawyer Achilleas Demetriades told CNA that the arrangement is included in a relevant appendix of the Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus and a receipt of payment was signed by the two late Turkish Cypriot politicians and questioned the whereabouts of the money.

Demetriades made the remarks following allegations on Tuesday by the head of the Islamic religious foundation EFKAV, Ibrahim Benter. According to Turkish Cypriot media, Benter alleged that most of Varosha belongs to Evkaf as it belongs to three vakifs (religious endowments). He cited the Xenides-Aresti case where Evkaf claimed that Aresti’s property belonged to the foundation but the position was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights.

He further called on people from Varosha, who own property in the fenced off area, to apply to the so-called Immovable property commission for restoration and loss of use, forcing Turkey to restore these properties.

Demetriades said that the former colonial ruler, as part of the independence arrangements, gave the Turkish Cypriot community a large amount of money, 1.5 million Sterling for complete and final settlement of all of Turkish claims, including those of the Evkaf high Council, whose President was Dr. Fazil Kutchuk.

The money was paid on August 1, 1960 and Kutchuk and Denktash received the sum of 500,000 pounds in a joint account. The remaining 1 million was paid into the Turkish communal chamber.

Demetriades asked what happened with the money given to the Turkish community and Dr. Kutchuk, adding it is clear that this sum was used for paying off all demands by the Turkish Cypriot community. However, he said, it looks like the money never arrived to those who really needed it. This is an issue which the Turkish Cypriot community will have to look into and see where the money was spent”, he added.

According to Demetriades who researched the issue, the looting of Evkaf properties by the former colonial rule was something that took place and a committee was set up in 1958-1959 which proved that the colonial government was handling the Evkaf properties as if they were part of a government department.

For this reason, the Turkish Cypriots insisted in the independence negotiations that the British pay 4 million Stg in damages. But after hard bargaining, the amount went down to 1.5 million sterling.

What Demetriades is pointing out is that the arrangements do not annul the compromise which the two sides had reached.  Appendix U is part of the Treaty of Establishment and is made up of communication by Dr. Kutchuk and Dr. Denktash to the British to receive the money.

The text of Letter from the Governor and Dr. Kutchuck and Denktash notes in paragraph 1 that the “government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have decided to make available the sum of 1.500.000 Stg by way of grant to the Turkish community in Cyprus to be used for education, the development of Vafk property and cultural and other like purposes which fall within the competence of the Turkish Communal Chamber as it is to be established under the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus”.

The governor proposed that the UK “pay the sum of 1 million, for the purposes mentioned in paragraph 1 to the Turkish Communal Chamber, in instalments as required for purposes which have been approved by that Chamber for immediate execution during the two years following the date of independence for Cyprus”.

However, to meet “urgent requirements of the Turkish community…the UK shall pay the sum of 500,000 pounds into a joint account in your name with the Turkish Bank of Nicosia on condition” the payments were made with the consent of Evkaf and the signature of both.

The letter underlines «I also have to request your confirmation that the Turkish community, including the High Council of Evkaf, 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 underlined the significance of “otherwise” and that “no such claims will be made hereafter by or on behalf of the Turkish community», and questioned on what Evkaf is relying its claims nowadays. “This appendix proves the legal foundation of the arrangement and the receipt is a proof that this has taken place,” he added.

He further cited the claims made by Evkaf during the Xenides Aresti case in 2004 and 2005 that Aresti’s property belonged to the foundation, something which was rejected by the court. Since then, Evkaf changed its story and claims it has a court ruling that the property in the fenced off town belongs to it. This, of course, we do not accept”, he remarked.

He further said that another case pending before the European Court of Human Rights, will examine the Evkaf allegations once again and prove that they are unfounded. The case will be brought to hearing on 9th September.

“I hope that the Republic of Cyprus, as a country whose national has brought the matter before the ECHR, will participate as it is entitled,” he said. According to Demetriades, the Republic of Cyprus can table the Land Registry’s estimations for the proper compensation to be awarded. The Turkish side cites estimations which are valid for the areas under Turkish occupation and not the market price as in the government-controlled areas of the Republic.

He also urged owners of property in Famagusta, who have certificates of ownership and hotel owners who have updated their companies to appeal to the so called Immovable Property Committee for restoration and loss of use, forcing Turkey to restore these properties to the rightful owners.

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.

UNSC resolution 550 (1984) ‘considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the United Nations’.

Efforts over the years for the legitimate citizens of Famagusta to return to the city have met with the refusal of the Turkish side, despite numerous decisions and resolutions by the UN, EU and other international institutions.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades sent on June 26 a letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in which he explains that the plans announced recently in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, concerning Varosha, constitute part of Turkey’s plan B, after the deadlock at the Conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana.

(Cyprus News Agency)

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