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30 May, 2023
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Council pulls plug on Cyprus' Titina Loizidou case

Nicosia disappointed with ‘legally stale and politically problematic’ decision that stops pressure on Turkey


The Council of Europe has tossed aside the Titina Loizidou case, a human rights political football between Turkey and Cyprus, with Nicosia noting its disappointment after some countries decided to pull the plug after many years.

Supervision of a property rights claim against Turkey, filed on behalf of Loizidou by Cypriot lawyer and now-presidential candidate Achilleas Demetriades, ended on Thursday with a decision by the Committee of Deputy Ministers of the Council of Europe.

In a landmark case in 1996, the European Court had ordered Turkey to pay damages for denying Loizidou the use of her property in Kyrenia, in the northern part of ethnically-split Cyprus.

Demetriades represented Loizidou, a Greek Cypriot woman, who sought to enforce the Court judgment for restitution and peaceful enjoyment of her property.

Korneliou said Italy and Spain, two friendly nations, had adopted the view that this situation had to stop, adding the decision was 'legally stale and politically problematic'

But Turkish officials have been arguing that Ankara paid Loizidou over €1 million in 2003 and further cited the creation of an Immovable Properties Commission in the north that deals with matters of restitution of property, land exchanges, or money compensation paid to Greek Cypriots who had to give up their properties following the division of the island.

Loizidou had refused to file an application with the IPC, claiming that Turkish forces had prevented and continued to prevent her from returning to northern Cyprus and peacefully enjoying her property.

She told state radio on Friday morning that she was disappointed that the council decided not to continue its oversight role in the case.

A statement from the Cypriot foreign ministry also expressed disappointment, noting that “Turkey, despite paying some compensation to Ms. Loizidou, continues not to comply with its obligation to restore all or part of Ms. Loizidou's property.”

Last year similar cases were closed due to amicable settlement between Greek Cypriot private citizens and Turkey, while Loizidou’s case spearheaded by presidential hopeful Demetriades, who is a well known human rights attorney, was kept open.

Turkey had been claiming all along "case closed"

In 2018 Turkey accused Greece and the Republic of Cyprus of taking political advantage of the Loizidou file, with Ankara seeing it as “case closed” for years.

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Kornelios Korneliou also made statements on state radio on Friday, saying “the secretariat played a negative role and even some partner states changed positions.”

Korneliou said Italy and Spain, two friendly nations, had adopted the view that this situation had to stop, referring to the council's monitoring of the Loizidou file, adding the decision was “legally stale and politically problematic.”

Loizidou, a native of Kyrenia in the north, has been a political activist in Cyprus against Turkey. During her radio interview, she went on to thank Cypriot authorities for their support through the years. 

Cyprus' famous activist had also struck up a friendship with Greek American Deborah Androus, who worked on a documentary on Cyprus for the BBC.

"I guess seeing (Cyprus) from the eyes of Titina, everything opened up. I admire so much what the Cypriots have done with what they had to work with it. There is a sense of belonging here," Androus said in the summer.

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