Ankara hopes Greek Cypriots learn from IPC decision

March 08, 2010, Monday/ 16:48:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
The top European court’s recognition of the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) as a valid domestic judicial remedy whose jurisdiction extends to Greek Cypriots is a “historic” decision that needs to be well comprehended, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has remarked.

Friday’s judgment by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) means that from now on Greek Cypriots will not be able to launch court cases against Turkey at the European court prior to seeking redress with the IPC and sets a precedent for approximately 1,500 property cases pending at the European court. The ruling is significant in that for the first time a Turkish Cypriot commission has been recognized by Europe’s top human rights court, boosting the international legitimacy of the KKTC.

The judgment should play a “facilitating and positive role” in the ongoing UN-led reunification negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders on the divided island, Davutoğlu said. He was speaking to Turkish journalists on Saturday in Cordoba where he attended a working dinner with foreign ministers of other European Union candidate countries during an informal half-yearly meeting of EU foreign ministers.

“Along the negotiation process, certain progress had been made about governance issues. From now on, [the judgment] will provide a significant advantage in regard to arriving at a fairer solution on property issues,” Davutoğlu said. Property disputes are considered one of the most difficult topics to negotiate.

The Foreign Ministry, in a written statement released late on Friday, emphasized that “it is imperative to handle the property issue, which constitutes the most complex aspect of the Cyprus problem, as a whole in a comprehensive settlement and to solve this issue within the UN parameters.”

Reiterating Ankara’s support for the comprehensive settlement negotiations on the island conducted under the auspices of the UN within this understanding, the ministry, however, noted: “Despite the efforts of the Turkish side to reach a just and lasting solution as soon as possible, the Greek Cypriot leadership fails to show the same determination. We believe, by drawing necessary lessons from the judgment of the ECtHR, the Greek Cypriot Administration will eventually realize that all aspects of the Cyprus question, including the property issue, should be solved through negotiations with the KKTC.”

While, as of Sunday afternoon, there was still no official comment from the Greek Cypriot administration on the issue, Greek Cypriot media interpreted the ruling as “a defeat” for the administration.

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