UN envoy’s wording triggers unrest in Turkish Cyprus
Ömer Bilge - NICOSIA
AFP photoA statement by Espen Barth Eide, the United Nations’ Cyprus envoy, on the return of land has triggered unrest in the Turkish side of the divided island.
“Regarding property, the leaders agreed that the individual’s right to property is respected,” Eide said earlier this week, in a statement issued on their behalf.
Some 80 percent of the property in northern Cyprus belonged to the Greeks in the south before the Turkish military’s intervention in 1974 following a pro-Greek coup on the island.
The Greek side anticipates some 380,000 decares of land will change hands via compensations or exchanges, as some 1.52 million decares of land will be returned to them.
This would result in giving some 76 percent of Turkish Cypriot land to Greek Cypriots.
Opposition parties in Turkish Cyprus have raised concerns that confronting Greeks and Turks on the property issue would result in a “civil war,” as opposition deputy Mustafa Arabacıoğlu put it.
The idea has also concerned foreigners on the Turkish side.
“Dispossessed owners and current users shall have various choices regarding their claims to affected properties. These different choices shall include compensation, exchange and reinstatement,” Eide said, announcing a court-like commission would be founded after the reunification.
Former Finance Minister Ersin Tatar has called on Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı to clarify the issue.
However, Akıncı’s speaker, Barış Burcu, who takes part in ongoing talks personally, told Hürriyet the president was not taking steps which would hurt the Turkish side’s benefit.
“They are telling us that we are selling the nation but we are not,” Burcu said.