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20 March, 2023
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Turkey pays Greek Cypriot damages over property in north

Turkey has paid a Greek Cypriot woman non – pecuniary damages, plus legal expenses of €14,526

Newsroom / CNA

Turkey has paid, through the Council of Europe, a Greek Cypriot non – pecuniary damages, plus legal expenses, in addition to VAT in the order of €14,526.75 in line with a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment.

This is the first time since 2003 that Ankara has paid damages to a Greek Cypriot in a case concerning property.

It is also the first time that Turkey has paid Value Added Tax (VAT) on legal expenses, essentially recognising the Republic of Cyprus, according to Achilleas Demetriades, the lawyer who handled the case.

The Joannou judgment is considered a precedent

Ankara did not appeal the Court decision, which describes the proceedings at the immovable property commission (IPC), operating in the Turkish-held north of Cyprus, as “protracted and ineffective.”

Andriani Joannou’s lawyer told CNA that this development paves the way for payment on the part of Turkey of another €50 million due in 33 individual cases and by paying the VAT “in essence Turkey confirms recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.”

Demetriades said that the ruling was issued in December 2017 and it became final in March 2018.

“When a judgment becomes final, the country against which it was issued has three months to abide by it,” he explains, adding that Turkey had until 12 June to pay.

According to the ECHR’s judgment, a violation of the right to property was established, because the procedures followed by the IPC were considered to be “protracted and ineffective.”

The Court asked Turkey to pay non-pecuniary damages of €7,000, expenses and any VAT, he adds.

One of the problems Turkey has with these cases at ECHR level “is that it does not wish to pay Greek Cypriots directly,” said Demetriades.

"It is interesting to see that Turkey has managed to find a process in order to meet the deadline set out in the Court judgment."

It seems, that “Turkey paid the Council of Europe and the Council of Europe, on May 21, deposited in the applicant’s account the total amount of €14,526.75.”

“This is the first time since 2003, that is to say since Turkey paid Titina Loizidou, that it has paid damages in a case concerning property.”

“This is extremely important in that another 33 cases filed by individuals are still pending at an estimated cost of €50 million.”

Turkey refuses to pay

Since 2006 the Court ordered Turkey to pay damages in these cases but so far Ankara has refused to pay.

“With this two-stage process, that is to say paying first the Council of Europe which in turn pays the applicant, we see that there may be a breakthrough.”

Demetriades added: “Apart from the new process, it is equally important that for the first time in history, at least that I am aware of, Turkey pays VAT on legal expenses.”

The amount paid breaks down to €7,000 for non-pecuniary damages, €6,325 for legal expenses and €1,201.07 for VAT.

The property commission in the north continues to operate and individuals who have encountered similar problems like Joannou, have lodged applications with the ECHR.

So the Joannou judgment is considered a precedent.

When an ECHR judgment is issued there are three levels of compliance.

The first level has to do with fair compensation.

The second level has to do with the steps a country proposes to take in order to make the procedure before the IPC less time consuming and to provide an effective remedy.

Generally, a timeframe of about six months is given to a country to prepare its action plan.

Demetriades said his client will go back to the IPC in order to seek a remedy, once Turkey corrects the current ineffective procedure.

Joannou sought compensation for property located in the village of Koma Tou Yialou.

The property, five plots of land, was a gift she received from her aunt.

Joannou filed a claim with the immovable property commission in May 2008, for compensation amounting to around €2.28 million.

After much delay, she applied to the ECHR in October 2014.

The Court ruled Turkey should pay the applicant €7,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and €6,325 in respect of costs and expenses, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final.

This is the first time since the Demopoulos decision in 2010 – which held the IPC to be an effective remedy in principle – that the ECHR blames Turkey for the committee`s ineffectiveness.

Property  |  Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  ECHR

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