European court backs Imvros property claim

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor Tuesday of a Greek woman who made a claim for property she inherited from her father on the island of Imvros, which has been part of Turkey since 1923, but which Turkish authorities said belonged to the country’s treasury.

Efthalia Psefteli’s father bought the land on Imvros (known as Gokceada in Turkish) in 1976. The family then left for Athens and when the local land register was created soon after Psefteli’s father died in 1995, authorities recorded the 110-square-meter plot as belonging to the Turkish state.

After that, Psefteli was unable to gain possession of the property and took her case to the European Court in Strasbourg in 2005. The court found that Turkish authorities were in breach of Article 1 of the First Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to the protection of property.

The court said it would decide whether ownership of the property should be returned to Psefteli or whether she should be awarded damages at a later date. Psefteli is claiming 132,812 euros in compensation.

The legal counsel at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul told Kathimerini the decision could be a landmark moment for Greeks making similar claims. “This first success for a Greek Orthodox woman from Imvros suggests that other claims will go the same way,” said Yiannis Ktistakis, adding that more than 10 similar cases are to be heard in the next couple of years.

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