December 22, 2005

Court orders Turkish reparation for Greek Cypriots

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - The European Court of Human
Rights (ECHR) ordered Turkey on Thursday to put in place within
three months an effective reparations mechanism for Greek
Cypriots who were stripped of their possessions in the 1970s.

The landmark order followed a ruling by the court in April
that property courts in the Turkish-controlled north of the
island were invalid as they offered only financial compensation
for property lost when the island was divided in 1974.

The court said Thursday's ruling applied both to the case
of the Greek Cypriot who had lodged the complaint and to some
1,400 similar cases which are pending.

"Such a remedy should be available within three months and
redress should occur three months after that," it said in a

The Turkish Cypriot parliament on Monday ratified a change
to its property laws allowing Greek Cypriots to apply to the
north's courts to get their properties back.

Land claims are a highly sensitive issue in Cyprus, which
split along ethnic lines after a Turkish invasion of the
Mediterranean island triggered by a brief Greek Cypriot coup
aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece.

The partition uprooted 165,000 Greek Cypriots and 60,000
Turkish Cypriots. Each side has unilaterally re-distributed or
re-used properties, creating a legal quagmire since the other
community refuses to acknowledge any dilution of their rights.

The court said it had adjourned consideration of all
similar applications until Turkey implemented the measures
ordered by the ruling.