Council of Europe Tells Turkey to Pay Damages

STRASBOURG–France (Reuters)–The Council of Europe on Monday issued a stern warning to Turkey to comply without further delay with a 1998 court decision and pay damages to a Greek Cypriot refugee.

The 41-nation group’s executive council of ministers said failure to obey a European Court of Human Rights judgement was unprecedented.

“The refusal of Turkey to execute the judgement of the court demonstrates a manifest disregard for its international obligations,” the ministers said in a strongly-worded statement.

“In view of the gravity of the matter (the council) strongly insists that Turkey comply fully and without further delay,” they said.

The court ordered Turkey in 1998 to pay $537,000 in compensation to Titina Loizidou for property seized after Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyrpus in 1974.

Turkey has refused to pay–arguing that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus–which only Ankara has recognised–is an independent country. Turkey has kept 30,000 troops in northern Cyprus since it invaded in response to a Greek Cypriot coup backed by Athens.

The ministers did not say how they could force Turkey to pay up–and a council spokeswoman’said they would review the dispute at their next meeting–in September.

She would not speculate on what measures the ministers could decide. She said that in theory a member country could be suspended and eventually expelled from the council for failing to obey a court order.

Although the 41-nation Council of Europe–which monitors human rights and democracy in the region–is independent of the European Union–a sanction would reflect badly on Turkey’s bid to join the EU.

The EU has said Turkey must improve its human rights record if it is to join the club.

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