North Cyprus Property Commission

22 June 2014

TRNC Immovable Property Commission runs out of Cash

10 July 2011 Last Chance for Applications to the TRNC Property Commission  
7 July 2011 How to make an Application to the Immovable Property Commission  
18 October 2010 Mr Andreas Lordos makes a significant application to the Immovable Property Commission  
1 April 2010 The European Court of Human Rights recognises the TRNC Immovable Property Commission  
Background information The TRNC Property Commission  

The TRNC Immovable Property Commission is an agency established by the North Cyprus administration to provide a local forum in which claims by dispossessed Greeks for property abandoned in North Cyprus can be adjudicated.

The credibility and standing of the Immovable Property Commission has been enhanced by recognition by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

12 December 2006

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made a ruling in respect of Myra Xenides-Arestis in December 2006. The ruling has important implications for the North Cyprus Property Commission and for all outstanding claims from dispossessed Greek persons which are currently pending at the ECHR. The outcome confirms a previous ruling in favour of another dispossessed Greek, Titina Loizidou .

The Immovable Property Commission is an interesting and important step towards the resolution of the Cyprus problem, that is, the division of the island into the North and South. When Cyprus was partitioned in 1974, a significant number of people were made homeless. Greeks moved to the South, and Turks moved to the North. The government of the Greek Republic of Cyprus has always promoted the dream that all displaced Greeks will one day return to their ancestral homes in the North. The formation of the TRNC Property Commission is a move by the government to deal with potential Greek claims while at the same time guaranteeing that all property owners, including British families, are completely safe. The following link contains some background information on the North Cyprus Property Commission.

Both the TRNC and Republic of Cyprus are claiming victory yesterday as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Turkey to pay Greek Cypriot refugee Myra Xenides-Arestis 850,000 euros in compensation for denying her access to the property she lost in the 1974 Turkish invasion.

The ruling came as a relief to the Turkish Cypriot authorities, as the ECHR appeared to give a tentative green light to the North Cyprus Property Commission yesterday – despite saying it was not in a position to deliver justice on the very case that stimulated its inception. The Court welcomed the steps taken by Turkey to establish a domestic remedy in the TRNC and ruled that the newly reorganized Immovable Property Commission meets, in principle, the Court's standards.

Most pleasing for the north was the court's statement that “the new compensation and restitution mechanism, in principle, has taken care of the requirements of the decision of the court.” Less pleasing, however, was its statement that because of its newness, it would not be fair to force Arestis to apply to it. Arestis' claim goes back to 1987, while the property commission has existed in its current form only since March 2006, although it was formed in 2003.

“The court cannot accept the [Turkish] government's argument that the applicant should now be required at this stage of the proceedings where the court has already decided on the merits to apply to the new commission in order to seek reparation for her damages. The court will therefore proceed to determine the compensation the applicant is entitled to in respect of losses emanating from the denial of access and loss of control, use, and enjoyment of her property,” the court concluded.

As a result of yesterday's ruling, Turkey must now pay 850,000 euros worth of damages to Arestis within the next three months. The figure includes 50,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages, and 35,000 for court costs. At around £460,000, the figure is considerably higher than the £240,000 compensation offered earlier this year to Arestis by the commission. However, it is also considerably lower than the £700,000 demanded in her original claim.

However, the main issue is whether other cases which are pending at the ECHR will now be heard and settled by the North Cyprus Property Commission. So a definitive verdict on the commission, will need to take into account rulings emerging from subsequent cases by other Greek Cypriot refugees. It is estimated that 38 cases were pending at the ECHR which had already been accepted by the court as admissible. These cases may either be heard by the ECHR or re-allocated to the Property Commission. However, there is an estimated 1,360 cases which are awaiting and all of these could be re-allocated to the Property Commission. The Turkish side now expects the ECHR to refer all pending claims to the Property Commission.

The result will certainly come as a big disappointment to the Greek Cypriots, since they were expecting the court's 1998 ruling on the Loizidou case to set the precedent for such applications.

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In 1998, the Strasbourg-based court ruled that Turkey had violated the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, following an application by Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou, who claimed access to her properties in the north of the island had been denied due to the Turkish military presence there. Turkey was asked to pay compensation to the claimant but refused to implement the decision, since it would then set a precedent which could lead to paying out billions of euros for future applications. However, the Turkish government eventually paid Loizidou 1.1 million euros in 2003 and then immediately began to lay the groundwork to establish a domestic remedy in the TRNC, which seemed the only solution in the face of 1,400 similar cases awaiting settlement.

A Greek lawyer stated, that even if subsequent cases were referred to the commission in the north, Turkey would be unable to offer less compensation for non- pecuniary damages than the 50,000 euros offered to Arestis. This, he said, meant that Turkey was, for that alone, looking at a bill of around 8 billion euros.

Turkish Cypriot international law expert at the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), and one of the main architects of the property commission, Dr Kudret Ozersay agreed yesterday that a definitive ruling on the commission was yet to be delivered. However, he said it was possible that the ECHR could, rather than waiting for another test case, hold a special session purely to decide on whether the nine rulings made so far by the commission were fair.

What will happen now to Arestis' property in the fenced-off area of the Varosha / Maras ghost town under Turkish military control remains unclear. Although the ruling states unequivocally that the property still belongs to her, she still does not have access to it. The property commission offered her £240,000 in June as compensation for the property itself. Arestis, however, rejected the offer, meaning the refugee will either have to wait for a solution of the Cyprus problem, or for the Turkish Cypriot authorities to return the area to civilian control under its own authority.

The controversial property commission came to life when the ECHR in December 2005 called on to Turkey to find a way of offering Arestis “redress” for the loss of her property in Varosha. Turkey accepted the task, and in turn gave the Turkish Cypriot authorities – as its ‘subordinate local authority' – the job of delivering justice on Greek Cypriot property claims. In making the ruling, the ECHR effectively adjourned around 1,400 Greek Cypriot applications, pending a later decision on whether the Turkish Cypriot Immovable Property Commission truly fits the criteria spelled out by the ECHR.

COMMENT - 15 December 2006
Although Ms Xenides-Arestis will be delighted with the outcome, the overall picture for the Greeks is ominous. The ECHR has informally indicated that it considers the North Cyprus Property Commission to be the appropriate agency for dealing with future and pending claims. This means that it is unlikely that many, if any, further cases of this nature will be heard by the ECHR. This informal recognition of the Property Commission by the ECHR will fill the Greek authorities with dread as it is a step towards international recognition of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

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