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23 June, 2024
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Forty-nine years of lies

''For the record...the Turkish Commission in the occupied territories appears to have received 6,761 applications from Greek Cypriot property owners''

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

And suddenly we discovered that in the Occupied Territories, Greek Cypriot properties are being sold to Turkish Cypriots or Turks. Some of us went crazy and remembered the patriotic slogans about selling the holy and sacred places of the nation. What hypocrisy! Instead of seeing the essence of the matter, instead of understanding why some Greek Cypriot property owners in the Occupied Territories are forced to "kill" their properties, we react as if we came from another planet. This is called Pharisaism. Three Greek Cypriot hotel owners in the fenced city of Famagusta are said to have sold them to Turkish Cypriots. Where is the novelty in this?

As thousands of other Greek Cypriots have done, they saw and submitted to the Property Committee established by Turkey in the occupied areas. Does it make any difference whether the property is in the enclosed city or somewhere else? Absolutely not. If there is any responsibility for the sale of properties in the occupied areas, it does not fall on their owners. Honestly, is there any serious person today who can blame Mike Tymvios for exchanging his property in the occupied areas with Turkish land in Larnaca in 2012? Yet, at that time, when he had the courage to come out publicly and disclose it, he was targeted by some ultra-patriots, including some journalists who openly called him a traitor, regardless of whether their employers were doing business with the Turks behind the scenes. History repeats itself today. We were all looking to find out who owned the hotels. The logic of the coffee shop. With the same zeal, we did not search for why we reached the point where properties are being sold off.

The world is tired and sees no prospects. All those who are selling off believe that there is no prospect of return and are rushing to "save whatever can be saved." All those who are trying to awaken patriotic sentiments from above do so with a full stomach. There are cases of owners in the occupied areas who are facing serious financial problems, and one of them was Mike Tymvios in 2012. Another was Nikos Skourides, who managed to return to Larnaca in Lapithos without a solution before he passed away.

The same thing is happening in Karpasia as is being attempted in Famagusta or other occupied cities. We have not realized that what we considered as given regarding the solution of the Cyprus issue is no longer valid. For years, the Turkish side has been proclaiming that it will open the fenced-off city, and we appear almost panicked because the purchase of three hotels by a Turkish Cypriot reveals that the Turkish side is consistent with its provocations. And as usual, our politicians will be chasing after the events, thundering against Turkish maneuvers, just to have a peaceful conscience.

However, beyond the political responsibilities for what we are experiencing with the sale of Greek Cypriot properties, there are others who, taking advantage of the sentiment of loss by refugees, attempted to resolve a purely political issue through legal means. Instead of being satisfied with what we gained from the decisions of the IPC (Immovable Property Commission) and waiting for their impact on the property settlement, we continued unabated. And what was the result? The IPC recognized that the Property Commission established by Turkey in the occupied territories is a satisfactory domestic legal remedy that can provide redress. And since then, the floodgates have opened with appeals from Greek Cypriot property owners and their literal sell-off. In these cases, not a drop of saliva was spilled, as if they would not affect the demographic character of the occupied territories, if and when the political problem is resolved.

For the record, and for those who have forgotten, based on official data until November 2020, the Turkish Commission in the occupied territories appears to have received 6,761 applications from Greek Cypriot property owners. According to the same data presented by the Commission, Greek Cypriot land totaling 34.6 million square meters has received compensation, which is equivalent to 25,872 units, representing 0.8% of the total Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied territories.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Turkey

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