Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Refugee may get compensation

Cyprus Weekly - 17 June 2005

By Philippos Stylianou

ANOTHER unique court case has emerged involving Greek Cypriot refugee property and a Turkish bank in the occupied areas, which however holds money reserves in the Central Bank of Cyprus.

Elpida Erotokritou Chrysochou filed a case in the Nicosia District Court in 2002 claiming damages of more than half a million pounds from Turk Bankasi for occupying her property in Morphou without permission.

Turk Bankasi has recognised the jurisdiction of the Nicosia District Court and is contesting the case, which is scheduled to be heard on June 22, through its lawyer Gursel Candri.

Accumulated
Chrysochouís laywer and husband, Yiannakis Erotokritou said they would be calling Central Bank officials to testify about the accumulated reserves of Turk Bankasi since before the Turkish invasion of 1974.

He explained that although Turk Bankasi today belongs to mainland Turks, it is one of the oldest banks registered in Cyprus since 1901.

There are reports that the Central Bank has accepted an application to freeze Ä800,000 of Turk Bankasiís assets pending the outcome of the Chrysochou case.

Application
Erotokritou said his wife has also filed an individual application with the European Court of Human Rights for violations of her property rights by Turkey .

He said their property was built in September 1972 in the centre of Morphou specially to house the Chartered Bank, to which it was let, while a flat and offices were completed in January 1974, including his own law office.

Meanwhile, Myria Aresti-Xenidi, another Cypriot refugee from Famagusta whose application was recently admitted by the ECHR, is claiming compensation, damages and costs amounting to more than half a million pounds from Turkey.

Her case was treated as a model one by the ECHR in deciding whether a "compensations commission" set up by the pseudostate constituted domestic legal remedies.

Model case
The courtís rejection of the "compensation commission" has opened the way for the hearing of about 33 other cases against Turkey declared admissible by the ECHR, while hundreds of others are waiting to be heard.

Xenidisí lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said it remained to be seen if the court would treat this as a model case all the way or just regarding its admissibility.

In another development, EuroMPs Charles Tannock and Ioannis Cassoulides have called on the European Council to act on the illegal sale of Greek Cypriot refugee properties to European nationals.

In a joint question the two MPs have asked the Council "to inform the European Parliament about the measures it is taking and also about the measures being taken by the governments of member states to inform their citizens, for their protection, on the illegality of becoming involved in such transactions, and of the legal consequences such actions might entail."