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Turkey will not pay ECHR award: FM Davutoğlu

13 May 2014

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that Turkey will not pay the 90 million euros in non-pecuniary damages awarded by the European Court of Human Rights to Greek Cypriots who suffered from the Turkish military intervention made in 1974 in Cyprus, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.

In terms of the grounds for this ruling, its method and the fact that it is considering a country that Turkey does not recognise as a counterpart, we see no necessity to make this payment,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said at a press conference on 13th May.

The ECHR’s ruling consists of some “legal contradictions” and therefore Turkey does not see it at as binding in terms of payment, he said.

The foreign minister went on to say that Turkey could not be forced by any court to pay recompense to a state – South Cyprus – that it does not recognise. “The court has exceeded its authority in intervening into a state-to-state problem.”

Turkey has, in the past, refused to pay similar awards on the ECHR’s Cyprus rulings over individual applications by Greek Cypriots, Turkish diplomatic sources said, also referring to a separate ECHR ruling that Russia did not carry out.

In this case, the Council of Europe Ministers Committee could issue a condemnation against Turkey for implementing the ECHR order.

The Turkish government will inform the ECHR about its decision to not pay the fine, outlining its reasons, sources say.

In its ruling on a lawsuit filed by South Cyprus in 1994, the ECHR found Turkey guilty on 12th May of violating European human rights agreements, stating that the whereabouts of 1,491 Greek Cypriots was still unknown and that 211,000 Greek Cypriots were forced from their homes after Turkey’s intervention in Cyprus in 1974. The ECHR ordered Turkey to pay 30 million euros to be distributed to the living relatives of the missing people, while it said 60 million euros in damages should be paid for “the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents of the Karpas peninsula.”

Davutoğlu described the timing of the ruling as “not well-intentioned.”

“The ECHR should rule on all the missing people cases, including the Turks in Turkish Cyprus,” he said.

“The timing is unfortunate, the comprehensive peace talks have been dealt a huge blow,” Davutoğlu said, referring to the recently relaunched Cyprus negotiations to reunite the island.

The minister drew attention to a committee established for missing persons in Cyprus.

“The court’s decision is based upon the 1,491 missing Cypriots but lots of them are not even on the missing list,” said Davutoğlu. “Therefore, the order’s basis is not clear at all.”

If the ECHR has taken a decision about the missing Greek Cypriots, then the court should take a decision about missing Turkish Cypriots as well, he said.

He also welcomed U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the Karpaz peninsula as an important step, as long as both sides will be treated equally. The minister said he could pay a visit to North Cyprus in the near future.

The ECHR ruling is “a political decision,” said TRNC President Derviş Eroğlu.

The court order will not influence the ongoing Cyprus negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said, while EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu expressed concern over the negative impact of the ruling on ongoing reunification talks.

Meanwhile, neither Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan nor main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu mentioned the case during their parliamentary group meetings on 13th May.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said late on Monday that the ruling is “unfair and contrary to the facts of Cyprus, its content has faults and incoherence, is devoid of legal basis and has no possibility of being put into practice amid the continuing circumstances in Cyprus.”

“Turkey will maintain its determined attitude for a permanent solution on the Cyprus issue despite the court’s unfair order, which constitutes a new legal error,” he said.

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