Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis reported that the North Cyprus supreme court rejected, by a majority, that the appeal filed by Greek Cypriots against the decision of the lower court, which argued that the properties in Famagusta belonged to EVKAF religious foundation.
In its decision, the supreme court said that the appeal of the Greek Cypriots should have been filed six months after the decision of the lower court, but it was submitted after this time period passed and this is why it was rejected.
Moreover, the supreme court suggests to the Immovable Properties Commission that it should take as basis the title deeds’ records of 1974 when it decides. It also suggests that the Commission did not have the power to examine whether any “irregularity” had taken place before 1974. The minority of the court, however, decided that whether “irregularities” took place should be examined. The decision of the majority was read by Narin Ferdi Sefik, chairperson of the North Cyprus supreme court.
The decision of the minority was read by judge Gulden Ciftcioglu.
Murat Hakki, lawyer of the plaintiffs, told the paper that the process from now on would be related to how the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) would interpret and perceive this decision, adding that “if the decision of the majority is taken as basis and is implemented by the Commission, it could be said that the way will open for the Commission to become an effective local remedy for Varosha/Maraş”.
Engin Ulunay, EVKAF’s lawyer, told the paper that the decision of the majority of the supreme court was not binding, “because the decisions which bind the Commission are the decisions of the supreme administrative court”. “This has the character of a conclusion”, he argued.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs Postası, reports that the court’s decision “satisfied both the EVKAF and the Greek Cypriot plaintiff”. Pointing out that the court convened under the presidency of Narin Sefik, the paper writes that the court rejected unanimously the appeal against the decision taken by Famagusta district court in 2005, which claimed that Varosha was EVKAF property. “However, some issues pointed out by the court caused debates”, notes the paper.
Stelios Ioannou, owner of Argo Hotel in Varosha, had filed an application in 2017 against the above mentioned decision of the district court, notes the paper adding that Ioannou’s application was rejected in 2018 and then he filed an appeal during the same year. This appeal was rejected yesterday.
According to the paper, while some said that the decision taken yesterday by the court was against EVKAF, as it suggested that the Commission should take as basis the title deeds of 1974 when it decides, EVKAF’s director Ibrahim Benter said that they welcomed the decision. He claimed the following:
“As it is remembered, the wish of the Greek Cypriots was to annul the declaratory judgement of 2005. The court did not annul it. This is the first issue. The second issue is the opening of the way for the people, that is, the Greek Cypriots, to apply to the Immovable Property Commission. When they apply, the Commission will take into consideration the title deeds of 1974. That is, as [there are] two decisions, it is a little bit of a contradictory situation. We want the Immovable Property Commission to work. Anyway, there is a system here for the Greek Cypriots to pursue their rights. We want this to work. Let them come and search for their rights and we will also go and say what we have to say, because we are also a party [Translator’s note: In these proceedings]. Let the court decide who is right”.