ANKARA (Hurriyet)–A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights has recognized for the first time the existence of an official institution of northern Cyprus and saved Turkey from paying millions of dollars in reparations to Greek Cypriot citizens, whose homes were confiscated during the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
“It’s a historic decision,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a limited group of journalists in Ankara on Friday.
Turkish Cypriots established the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) in 2005 in a move to avoid hundreds of cases brought to the European court by Greek Cypriots who sought compensation from Turkey for their seized properties.
According to Friday’s court decision, the petitioners should first apply to the IPC before coming to the European court.
“It’s the first time an official body of northern Cyprus has been recognized by an international institution,” Davutoglu said. “It is not only important because of this recognition but also in regard to the ongoing peace talks between the parties.”
A Turkish diplomat noted that the court had ruled in favor of a Greek Cypriot petitioner in a recent case known as the Orams case. “We have now equalized the situation,” the diplomat said. “It will have an enormous effect on the future.”
The property issue is considered by Turkey as one of the most important problems on the way to reaching a compromise between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. According to private channel NTV, around 1,600 cases will be affected by the ruling and will be directed to the commission.
The IPC was established to create a law-based mechanism for addressing the property issue. It was formed in accordance with the Law for the Compensation Exchange and Restitution of Immovable Properties, within the scope of Article 159 of the Constitution, and is responsible for implementing that law.