Turkey will ignore ECHR ruling to pay compensation to Greek Cyprus

Turkey will ignore ECHR ruling to pay compensation to Greek Cyprus

Sevil Erkuş ANKARA
Turkey will ignore ECHR ruling to pay compensation to Greek Cyprus

In this file photo dated July 25, 1974, Turkish troops in position on the frontline near the Nicosia Airport.

Turkey will not pay a fine imposed on the country by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the Turkish military’s 1974 intervention in Cyprus, officials in Ankara have announced.

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

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.

No court can force Turkey to pay a penalty to a state – Greek Cyprus – that it does not recognize, the minister said. “The court has exceeded its authority in intervening into a state-to-state problem.”

Turkey previously refused to pay similar penalties 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.

Ankara will inform ECHR about its decision to not pay the fine, outlining its reasons, according to sources.

In its ruling on a lawsuit filed by Greek Cyprus in 1994, the ECHR found Turkey guilty on May 12 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 restarted negotiations between the two sides of the divided 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 the Turkish Cyprus in the near future.

The ECHR ruling is “a political decision,” said Derviş Eroğlu, Turkish Cypriot leader.

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.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also slammed the ECHR ruling.

“In the name of the nation, I call on the prime minister to reject the ECHR ruling and send it back, and declare to all sides that we will closely follow this issue,” Bahçeli told his party’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday.

In the meantime, 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 May 13.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said late May 12 that the ruling was “devoid of a legal basis,” adding that there was no possibility that the verdict would be implemented.

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,” said Bilgiç.

“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.