Another delay on Loizidou case

The Council of Europe agreed yesterday to a further week’s delay in taking action against Ankara for its persistent refusal to obey a 1998 order by the European Court of Human Rights to compensate a Cypriot woman who lost her property during the 1974 Turkish invasion. CoE officials in Strasbourg presented delegates from the 45 member states with proposed sanctions against Turkey, which missed Wednesday’s deadline – already extended by a week – to pay Titina Loizidou $900,000 (763,000 euros), plus $200,000 in fines. But no agreement emerged. «Delegates reached no conclusion and suspended talks on this issue until next week,» a CoE spokesman said. It is unclear what sanctions could be imposed on Turkey, although the ultimate penalty could be an embarrassing expulsion from the council at a time when Ankara is doing its best to persuade European Union leaders it should qualify for eventual EU accession. A compromise deal is also understood to be on the cards. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who concluded a three-day state visit to Athens yesterday, said Nicosia would not accept such an arrangement, arguing that a compromise would deal a heavy blow to the ECHR’s credibility. His foreign minister, Giorgos Iacovou, voiced confidence that a compromise would not be backed by the necessary two-thirds majority of CoE delegates. On the question of Cyprus’s reunification ahead of its EU entry in May, Papadopoulos told a press conference in Athens yesterday that the only hope lay in the plan drafted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – which was rejected this year by Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. «I am certain that it is impossible to reach a solution with Mr Denktash, definitely not within the framework of the Annan plan,» he said.