Turkish Press

Ankara- Turkish Daily News

Oct 1, 1999

In a letter to the Council of Europe, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem has reiterated that Turkey will not obey a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which orders Turkey to pay compensation to a Greek Cypriot woman on grounds that it has barred her access to her property in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC).

The controversy over the case has been a source of additional tension in the traditionally thorny relations between Turkey and the Strasbourg-based organization since July 1989 when the court ordered that Turkey pay some $800,000 in compensation for depriving Titina Loizidou of her property rights in Kyrenia, a city in the KKTC. The sum has been swelling since then due to a monthly interest rate of 8 percent.

In his letter, Cem stressed that Turkey could not be held responsible for a case which took place within another country's territory.

He maintained that Turkey accepted the jurisdiction of the ECHR in January 1990 and therefore the court could not handle cases filed against Turkey which pertain to incidents before January 1990.

The minister stated that property issues were a part of the political problem of Cyprus, which is on the agenda of the United Nations. That is why, he wrote, other international organizations cannot take binding legal decisions on the subject.

Cem expressed support for Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktas's proposal for the establishment of joint committees to deal with property issues on the long-divided island.

Despite Turkey's determination, Council of Europe countries insist that Turkey should implement the ruling. The issue has been on the agenda of the Council of Europe Delegates Committee since last year, but no compromise has been reached so far. The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for Oct. 4-5.

Turkey faces suspension of its membership in the organization if it does not abide with the ECHR ruling. Turkish officials have previously hinted that Ankara is ready to sacrifice its membership for the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and its own interests in Cyprus.

The property issue is one of thorniest in the Cyprus problem. Former Turkish Cypriot properties in the south are occupied by Greek Cypriots and vice versa. Greek Cypriot claims to properties in the north have come under international public scrutiny, while cases of occupied Turkish Cypriot lands have been passed over in silence.