There is no end in sight in the Turkish Cypriot property saga in Paphos, with the town’s mayor Fedonas Fedonos saying a parking lot outside a produce market was not licensed lawfully.
Fedonos on Sunday posted on social media a photograph of the green grocer “The Garden of Eden” in Paphos, saying the business did not have a proper license. The mayor, who got elected on a campaign promise to clean house, resumed his long-standing criticism of officials for “acting with impunity”.
“Without any license being granted, they signed off on their using the area as a parking lot while a town planning permit from the City ought to have obtained in advance,” said the mayor.
Fedonos says the municipality did not have a say in providing the permit
“They ignored us and handed over the license on their own,” the mayor wrote on Facebook and Twitter.
But another Facebook user, who responded to Fedonos’ comment and appeared to be speaking on behalf of the produce market, dismissed the issue raised by the mayor.
“We were given a 15-day permit for Easter holidays. Have mercy, if this is a crime, then we have committed a crime,” she wrote.
She also said that the private business had offered to create a public car park at their own expense, adding that the mayor is refusing the offer.
Rules and procedures bypassed
But according to Fedonos, the municipality did not have a say in providing the permit, suggesting that there was no coordination between the government at district level and the city in granting the license.
It is not the first time that the mayor has been shedding light on the misuse of managing Turkish Cypriot properties in Paphos. Last year he dropped a media bombshell by pointing fingers to individuals who were renting properties at a nominal fee but were not lawful beneficiaries. Turkish Cypriot properties in the Republic of Cyprus fall under the Turkish Cypriot Properties Management which is a committee overseen by the Interior Ministry.
Following the ethnic division and population displacement between north and south, the government passed a law aimed at safeguarding the rights of (Turkish Cypriot) property owners while making those properties available under specific criteria, namely to assist Greek Cypriots in the south who lost their properties in the north as a result of the conflict in 1974.
In order to have a fairer administration of Turkish Cypriot properties, but also speed up the process of addressing specific issues, special committees were formed in the south at the local level which would examine cases and then make recommendations to the guardian of the properties. Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides, who has been overseeing government reform before assuming his new position, said last year he had been aware of some accusations leveled by Fedonos and action was being taken.
The Paphos mayor has been a major newsmaker since his election in 2015 by helping uncover scandals in his town and other parts of Cyprus. He has said repeatedly that his main concern is that cases would not see the light of day unless people and media keep these stories alive.