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Media Watch 2003

07 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: George Psyllides
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 7 May 2003
Ministry to re-examine law on Turkish Cypriot properties in wake of new situation

THE INTERIOR Ministry will be submitting a comprehensive proposal concerning legislation on the management of Turkish Cypriot land some time next week, Minister Andreas Christou said yesterday.

The government has been forced to look into the matter after many Turkish Cypriots applied to the Interior Ministry in relation with their properties.

Speaking after a meeting held to discuss the matter, Christou said many Turkish Cypriots had visited the ministry to establish the status of their property, not to sell it.

“There are the constitutional rights of every Cypriot citizen, Greek and Turkish Cypriot, but at the same time there are limitations stemming from the law on the management of Turkish Cypriot properties; these need to be looked into to be able to address the emerging issues,” Christou said.

After the 1974 invasion, and the subsequent movement of Turkish Cypriots to the occupied north, their properties were handed over to the Guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties – the interior minister of the day – to look after them and return them when the political problem was solved.

The minister said the government’s current policy must be “extended and completed, considering the movement of Turkish Cypriots and their reasonable requests and applications to the state, as well as the fact that since April 16 we are an EU member state.”

Christou said all the parameters would be studied and a proposal would be forwarded to the Cabinet some time next week.

The minister said the law did not have to be upgraded, but certain issues and cases that had emerged for the first time needed to be studied and interpreted in accordance with the law and the constitution.

Christou said there were no figures on how many Turkish Cypriots had applied, but stressed that “many were interested, though the focus of their interest was to secure the property and not sell it”.

The minister said that Turkish Cypriots wanted to know where their property was, if it was still in their name, and if it had been affected by any projects or changed in any way.

“The Turkish Cypriots are interested in reaffirming their property,” Christou said.

Concerning the Turkish Cypriot properties appropriated by the government for public projects, Christou said the issue would be looked into along with the rest.

A lot of Turkish Cypriot land has been used to build estates to house the Greek Cypriot refugees that were forced to leave their homes in the north.

In one case, the government settled out of court after a Turkish Cypriot demanded compensation for the use of her land in Limassol."