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Time For Northern Cyprus To Fight Back

ALI OZMEN SAFA, publisher of RESIDENCE magazine, finds yet another instance of discrimination against agents and developers offering property for sale in Northern Cyprus.

"For too many years the Turkish Cypriot community has sat back and failed to defend itself against the weight of the Greek Cypriot propaganda machine"

Previous articles in RESIDENCE magazine have reported various attempts by the Greek Cypriot Government to continue to try to oppress and persecute those seeking to invest in the Northern Cypriot economy and to benefit from the unique lifestyle offered there.

Threats of multiple actions against those buying properties in the North, following on from the Orams case [see RESIDENCE issue 12], have failed in materialise. So far as can be ascertained no further cases have been brought. This may have been assisted by the welcome decision of the Northern Cyprus Government to make it a criminal offence to seek to serve in the north of the island summonses issued by Greek Cypriot courts.

And then there was the spectre of using the European Arrest Warrant to persecute those involved in the construction, buying and selling of property in the north. Again this seems to have been shown to be pure bluff and strong legal arguments have been put forward to show that European Arrest Warrants issued by the Greek Cypriot authorities in relation to activities in the north of the island would not be enforced in other countries in Europe.

Legal challenge successful

For too many years the Turkish Cypriot community has sat back and failed to defend itself against the weight of the Greek Cypriot propaganda machine, but the signs are now more encouraging. Previous articles in RESIDENCE magazine have referred to the work of PI Property International PLC in organising the Residence Turkish Village as a showcase at property exhibitions in the UK and overseas for those involved in developing the economy of Northern Cyprus.

Congratulations are now due to EUPRO who, in conjunction with Mr. Yilmaz Kalfaoglu, President of the North Cyprus Tourism Board, have successfully challenged in the English Courts the ban by Transport for London on advertising holidays in Northern Cyprus on London buses. Mr. Justice Newman decided that the actions in question were lawful acts of a person existing in English law.

The decision to impose the ban was taken after complaints made on the basis of non-recognition internationally of Northern Cyprus and the erroneous belief that Turkey had illegally occupied Northern Cyprus for the past 30 years. Accordingly, the decision was made on an error of law, error of fact and irrationality.

The right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention was an important, valid and effective challenge to the legality of Transport for London's decision to ban the adverts. Judicial Review is a weapon which can be used against official and quasi-official bodies; it cannot be used against private organisations.

Further discrimination

Discrimination against Northern Cyprus continues to exist. After a successful exhibition earlier in the year, Medview Homes was due to participate in die Place In the Sun Exhibition at the end of September. However the organisers, Brooklands Group Limited, have refused to permit any exhibitors who are involved with properties in Northern Cyprus.

Detailed and weighty representations have been made to them. It was pointed out that the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960 following a Treaty signed by the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, the United Kingdom and Turkey. This guaranteed a parliament and executive government in which both communities were represented. But prior to the formal division of the island in 1974 the Greek Cypriots, contrary to the Treaty and Constitution, excluded the Turkish community from all aspects of government and the political process. The government of the southern part of the island, therefore, whilst technically representing the whole of the island, in no way represents the Turkish Cypriot community or the northern part of the island.

It was further pointed out that whereas the government in the north of the island (TRNC) requires Turkish Cypriots to hand over the title deeds to land they formerly owned in the south of the island before they acquired land in the north, no such action was taken by the government in the south.

Indeed, properties in the south of the island being advertised for sale have been built on land to which Turkish Cypriots can show pre-1974 title. On this very questionable basis Southern Cyprus exhibitors will be permitted to be present at the Place in the Sun Exhibition whilst those involved in Northern Cyprus will not.

A valid point

The Chief Executive of Brooklands Group Limited, in a letter explaining their decision, admitted that our representations "may indeed have a valid point on some detail (sic) point of law", but went on to say that “…as exhibition organisers and magazine publishers we have and reserve the absolute right to refuse admission in any sense ... and, I'm afraid, the exclusion of Northern Cyprus agents, developers and/or their representatives from our events remains our position.”

Whilst this decision may be considered to be commercially prudent, it is hardly equitable. Surely the time has come to consider what further action can be taken to ensure that the freedom of expression and recognition of human rights of the Turkish Cypriot community are upheld not only in the public sector but in the commercial world as well. 

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