President Akıncı has said that the individual’s right to property was not something new and that there were a lot of misleading reports in the press regarding the settlement of the property dispute.
Akıncı was addressing a delegation from the Cyprus Turkish Contractors Association headed by its president Cafer Gürcafer.
Speaking during the visit, the President emphasised the importance of the association and drew attention to the support it is giving to the ongoing solution process.
Commenting on recent speculation in the press and elsewhere in the TRNC regarding the property issue Akıncı said:
“The individual’s right to property is something which has been recognised in the past. This is not something new. But there are attempts to portray things differently. As if recognising or respecting the individual’s right to property means that only the former owner of a property in question will have the choice to decide what will happen with that property. This will not be the case as I have made clear in the joint statement we made.”
Akıncı also pointed out that the TRNC Immovable Property Commission had been set up on the basis of recognising the individual’s right to property.
“Turkey paid Titina Louzidu 1 million Euros because her right to property as an individual was recognised. If you don’t recognise the right to property than how can you exchange property? This is why all this smoke needs to be cleared”, he said.
The President also explained how the property commission to be set up after a settlement will work.
“Property disputes will be settled through a property commission on the basis of criteria. The commission will be made up of an equal number of Turkish and Greek Cypriots. The Commission will decide on the basis of the criteria which we shall determine. We shall be discussing those criteria”’, he noted.
President Akıncı also explained that cases like the Demopoulos case (Demopoulos and others v Turkey 2010) at the European Court of Human Rights had recognised that people who have been occupying and using a property for a lengthy period of time, also have rights over the property in question.
“Of course we are aware that the people who have spent an entire lifetime, who have set up their homes and businesses on disputed properties have rights and need to be protected.
It was out of the question however, to say that we drew the line in 1974 and that’s it. We can’t say that we will neither pay compensation nor exchange property. We have a problem which is why we have been trying to negotiate a settlement for years.
Akıncı also pointed out that it was important to find common ground and a mutually acceptable settlement without imposing one side’s demands on the other.
“We must remember that the settlement to be reached will be a bi-zonal and bi-communal settlement which means that Turkish Cypriots will be in the majority in the North and Greek Cypriots in the South. Our duty is to protect this character of the settlement. It’s obvious most of the cases will be settled through compensation” he added.