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Prepared by Ian Smith

It is over one year since the Annan Plan was rejected by the occupants of South Cyprus and whilst the Greek Cypriots made a negative turn round to the expected positive vote, the Turkish Cypriots stood by their beliefs and returned a healthy 65% positive vote for the Plan, yet incredibly the Greek Cypriot sector of the island went into the European Union and the TRNC [Northern Cyprus] was left out in the cold, despite their willingness to agree to it. In recognition of their positive stance the EU promised to release substantial funding for the TRNC [Northern Cyprus], but to date these promises have yet to be fulfilled.

During the world-wide media coverage that has illustrated the truth about the Cyprus problems, investors [of properties such as apartments in Kyrenia] have been examining the pros and cons of the island [Northern Cyprus] and have come to the conclusion that the time has come to invest in a multitude of industries, particularly in villa building [and apartments etc] and tourism related projects which have fuelled the building boom we see today.

Government sources in the TRNC [Northern Cyprus] have clearly stated that foreign and local investors [of properties such as apartments in Kyrenia] have nothing to fear, as long as the purchases and investments are effected through the legal system [of Northern Cyprus] and all relevant taxes are paid [to Northern Cyprus authorities]. The TRNC [Northern Cyprus] Government is democratically elected and Title Deeds [in Northern Cyprus] are issued on receipt of Council of Ministers approval [of Northern Cyprus].

If the Greek Cypriots feel that they should be able to use their properties [in Northern Cyprus], relinquished 30 years ago, or accept some form of compensation agreement then why vote against the Annan Plan which clearly covered the property issues? Surely, sitting at negotiating tables with their Turkish Cypriot counterparts is far more likely to reach a successful conclusion then voting negatively against the Plan and issuing arrest warrants [to some in Northern Cyprus] which could have the effect officially closing down the newly opened barriers. It has now reached the stage whereby the foreign nationals and Turkish Cypriots have formed a company, EUPRO [in Northern Cyprus], which will tackle the issuance of these warrants via their UK Councils (QC). Furthermore the drafting of a black list of hotel owners in the TRNC [Northern Cyprus] whereby tourists are told that they could be liable to be prosecuted if they visit these tourism properties, is not the action one would expect from someone who is for a solution to this 30 year thorny problem.

We hear much about Greek Cypriot properties that were vacated in the mid 74's but very little is heard about the [Northern Cyprus] Turkish Cypriot losses. Apart from areas like Varosha (which always has been EVKAF -owned, an organisation formed in 1571 as a religious trust), the airport in Larnaka and the Hilton Hotel which we are told are both built on original Turkish Land. We are informed that many [Northern Cyprus] Turkish Cypriot property owners visiting their old villages in the south have been mortified to see open tracts of land where their homes used to be. The case for the Turkish Cypriot [Northern Cyprus] is not accepted by the other side but they tend to overlook the fact that even though the Turkish Cypriots [Northern Cyprus] numbered less than the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots [Northern Cyprus] had more of their citizens proportionately involved in agriculture which gave them the edge of land ownership.

To go along with the Annan Plan with some modifications must surely be the best method of satisfying both sides' [Northern and South Cyprus] claims, assuming of course that the Greek Cypriots want a solution in the first place. By the way the Government in the South is back-pedalling regarding the fine tuning of both sides' claims, it becomes clear to see that there is no incentive for the Greek Cypriots to formally accept the Turkish Cypriots [Northern Cyprus] as equals. The dream of Enosis which is kept alive in the minds of some South Cyprus citizens is a blatant affront to the Turkish Cypriot [of Northern Cyprus] and British Nationals, especially as the Turkish Ottomans ruled the island for over 300 years and ruled it with a firm but just hand, even respecting non-Cypriots beliefs in freedom of religious preferences.

The property [apartments etc in Northern Cyprus] boom has taken people in the north by surprise and it is clearly imperative that the upgrading and extension of the infrastructures requires substantial investments [in Northern Cyprus] which will come soon after any settlement. Land and property prices [such as apartments, villas etc in Northern Cyprus], fuelled by the demand, have risen dramatically with lands [in Northern Cyprus] in some areas showing increases from 6,000 per donum three years ago to 55,000 per donum today. Land purchase and villa construction are still way below European prices and further growth is expected.

So where do we go from here?
The Turkish Cypriot's [of Northern Cyprus] position and the facts leading up to their current status with no direct flights, no recognition apart from Turkey, embargoes and no grants/loans from outside Cyprus (apart from Turkey again) has resulted, via the media, in the TRNC's [Northern Cyprus] position being understood more clearly throughout Europe and the USA. The TRNC [Northern Cyprus] has never matched the Greek propaganda machine although the current coverage in the UK press is explaining to the world exactly what the situation is.

The British are still the main buyers for land and property [such as apartments etc in Northern Cyprus] whether holiday or retirement usage and shows little sign of abatement. Developers [of properties such as apartments etc] both from outside and within [Northern] Cyprus are enjoying long awaited and well deserved opportunities with investors from Britain, Europe, USA, Israel and Turkey visiting the TRNC [Northern Cyprus] on a regular basis. Sensibly, the Town Planning Department [Northern Cyprus] in Lefkosa is drafting new rules to regulate the volume of new projects and the Environmental Department [of Northern Cyprus] also controls these new developments.

The current position regarding the EU accepting the TRNC's [Northern Cyprus] application is dependant on several factors such as:

There must be a change of attitude and policy by the Greek Cypriots towards the Turkish Cypriots [of Northern Cyprus] and the recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [Northern Cyprus] as joint shareholders of Cyprus as a whole, not just a minority community who are permitted to stay.

The acceptance of the TRNC [Northern Cyprus] as Co-owners of the island and being eligible to its fair proportion of incoming aid monies and grants/loans. The freedom of movement on the island for all Cypriots whether from the Northern State or the South plus all foreign nationals and EU citizens. Until these factors have been mutually agreed between both sides [Northern and South Cyprus], there is little chance of success and the status quo remains in place which is unfair and most unproductive especially for the Turkish Cypriots [of Northern Cyprus].

Ian Smith
Next month: Details on new Planning Laws [of Northern Cyprus]

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