Court Decision Could Open Way for Greek-Cypriot Refugee Reparations



The flags of Turkey and the pseudo-state in occupied Kyrenia, occupied northern Cyprus. Credit: Xenophon/Wikimedia Commons

A decision issued by the Kyrenia District Court in Cyprus which awards monetary compensation to four brothers could open the way for similar rulings in EU member states — to the detriment of Turkish assets.

The court, which is seated in Nicosia because Kyrenia remains under Turkish occupation, awarded monetary compensation totaling 72,423,772 euros to Kleanthis Soleas, Ioannis Soleas, Avgi Solea Charalampidou and Elli Solea Costa for the loss of use of their property in Kyrenia until 2014, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reports.

The four siblings were represented by lawyers Simos Angelidis and Katerina Eugeniou from the office of Andreas S. Angelidis, working together with Greek lawyer Christos Papasotiriou.

The decision was issued on October 12. The four plaintiffs are already in search of Turkish state property in an EU member state which could be sold to satisfy the part of the decision regarding their financial compensation, according to Simos Angelidis.

Angelidis told CNA that any property that will be used for this purpose must be Turkish state property, not belonging to a private Turkish company.

The court issued a decree, as requested, fully recognizing the plaintiffs’ ownership of the disputed properties in Kyrenia. The decision is a binding precedent both inside Cyprus and abroad.

The court also proceeded, at the plaintiffs’ claim, to issue a decree ordering Turkey to lift its illegal intervention on the disputed properties and to return them to the plaintiffs within 30 days of the delivery of the decree.

Angelidis explained to CNA that the decision has been issued by a court of an EU member state; therefore, it can be registered in any other EU member state in order to be executed, and that is of direct concern to the nation of Turkey.

The lawyer further stated that any Turkish state property within the EU can be sold for compensation, except that of an embassy or consulate, which are protected by international law.

“The property must be found first, then we must proceed based on a specific regulation to take certain steps to register this decision, and in the process this decision becomes enforceable and applicable in that state,” Angelidis told reporters.

The lawyer pointed out that “the court decision can not be challenged, unless Turkey chooses to appeal against a decision issued in Cyprus, which I consider quite unlikely in view of the position they (Turkey) expressed when the lawsuit was served… that they do not recognize the Republic of Cyprus but only that there is a ‘Greek Cypriot administration.'”

Therefore, one cannot expect that Turkey will change this policy and its permanent position, Angelidis said, adding that “once this decision is not challenged and overturned, then it will be binding and there will be the possibility to implement it, at least in relation to the compensation.”

However, he added, it is still pending. This makes it even more difficult for anyone to proceed in relation to the second and third part of the decision concerning the full recognition of property and ownership in Kyrenia by Turkey, and to lift and terminate the illegal occupation and intervention.

“Obviously these cannot be processed in another member state, but it (the decision) does not cease to be binding,” he noted.

Angelidis also told CNA that this decision is binding on the state, noting that the court has ruled that the refugee from Kyrenia remains the permanent owner of his property.

“Therefore, in any negotiation, this should be taken into account and the (Cypriot) government should not proceed in a way that conflicts with court decisions in the Republic of Cyprus,” he stated.