Court rules on Cyprus reparation

STRASBOURG (Reuters) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Turkey yesterday 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 yesterday’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 statement. 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. The 1974 partition uprooted 165,000 Greek Cypriots and 60,000 Turkish Cypriots. Each side has unilaterally redistributed or reused 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. [Meanwhile, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday agreed with comments made by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday that the time was not yet right to reopen reunification talks. Papadopoulos added that the Turkish side had been granted many concessions in last year’s Annan plan and was now finding it difficult to give ground. Papadopoulos also said it was «natural and logical» that Annan had not appointed a permanent representative in Cyprus. The Cypriot president said it was up to Annan to decide the intensity and form that the next process to reunify the island will take.]