Elderly Greek Man’s Return to Northern Cyprus Sparks Outrage

The return of 78-year-old Nikolas Skourides to his property in the occupied village of Larnaka tis Lapithou after over four decades, has sparked an outrage, Cyprus Mail Online says.

Skourides; who was born and grew up in Larnaka tis Lapithou, returned to his home in Northern Cyprus after the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) gave him back his 349-square-meter plot in September, and he started building a house there. The IPC is a body set up in the north to compensate Greek Cypriot refugees for their lost property.

However, Larnaka tis Lapithou villagers are seeking the annulment of the IPCs decision.

Skourides told Active radio that he was removed from his home and property on August 14, 1974 but started claiming his property back seven years ago, the Cyprus Mail report says.

When the crossings opened, Skourides began going to Larnaka tis Lapithou two to three times a week, where he made friends with almost all the Turkish Cypriots living there and still maintains excellent friendly relations.

Skourides, who has some health problems, started the process of reclaiming his property after the village’s community leader told him that it had not been given to anyone else.

However, when Skourides started building a house last week, residents complained and the Lapithos authorities stopped the work, saying that he had no construction permit. The villagers also started collecting signatures to overturn the decision of the IPC.

Police had to go to the area due to the tension generated. Skourides said he had many difficulties and high expenses to pay in order to claim his property, and that he is obliged to his Turkish Cypriot friends for their help.

IPC Chairman Ayfer Said Erkmen told Cypriot Turkish daily Yeni Duzen that after going through Skourides’ application, he contacted the security forces command and implemented the decision after they were informed that the return could take place.

Erkmen said that the elderly man had secured all the necessary permits from the competent authorities. The IPC chairman said that a Greek Cypriot has the right to apply for the permit to build a house as much as a Turkish Cypriot does.

According to Erkmen, 97.7 percent of the decisions taken to date by the IPC concern payment of compensation, 1 per cent the return of property, while the rest of the applications have been withdrawn.