Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos is turning up the pressure in his town’s Turkish Cypriot properties saga, prompting Edek party leader Marinos Sizopoulos to respond to allegations of corruption.
Phedonos posted a comment on social media Monday about a non-refugee from Paphos who is renting a Turkish Cypriot property near the town’s exclusive area near the harbor and turning a profit of over €5000 according to the Phedonos.
The mayor later named the individual as local artist Andreas Charalambides, who appears to be the lawful tenant of the Turkish Cypriot property.
But Charalambides is renting the place to known businessman Spyros Georgiou, who is using the property as a café.
Phedonos says the lease contract had been renewed despite complaints filed with the police last year
Phedonos gave out hints about the case last week, following information he had received that the lease contract had been renewed despite complaints filed with the police last year which led to multiple evictions of other tenants in Paphos.
“We can’t have small business owners being evicted because they possess things illegally and all the while there is favourable treatment in these cases,” said the mayor.
Following a crackdown on illegal activity and misuse of Turkish Cypriot properties in Paphos, which are under the administration of the Interior Ministry’s Turkish Cypriot Properties Management, the mayor says some businessmen receive favourable treatment over others.
The mayor says Charalambides is a relative of Sizopoulos, alleging that the politician might have intervened in order to protect Georgiou’s café business and the business transaction between the two men.
Sizopoulos fired back Tuesday, suggesting the mayor had ulterior motives.
“Unfortunately we have to resort to dealing with such pettiness and special interests,” said the Edek leader, adding that “the Paphos mayor knows full well that the transaction is legal based in part on evidence shown last year when he filed the complaint,” Sizopoulos said.
“I had nothing to do with the new leasing contract last month. I had no reason to intervene, given that this was legal,” Sizopoulos said.
But the mayor is challenging the argument of “lawful tenant” citing a 1992 law regarding Turkish Cypriot properties in the south. The law essentially banned 'established tenants' of Turkish Cypriot properties who did not meet criteria, namely being Greek Cypriots and having lost property in the north as a result of the island's division.
“Some people in the past managed to claim properties of significant value” said Phedonos.