Saturday, 6 May 2023
Director-General of the Cyprus Evkaf Administration (Vakıflar İdaresi), Prof. Dr. İbrahim Benter appeared on television to discuss claims that hotels in Maraş/Varosha would be sold to a businessman.
Speaking on “Tek Manşet”, a programme produced and presented by Gökhan Altıner and Levent Kutay on Kıbrıs Postası TV, Dr Benter stated that there were serious problems regarding title deeds in Maraş.
These problems arose following transfers of title deeds during the British Colonial period in Cyprus, because they were made in error.
It is claimed that Maraş still legally belongs to the Evkaf, a Muslim charity dating back to the Ottoman conquest of 1571.
“Perhaps solving it in this way is good, and we look positively on this matter.” Benter emphasised that the steps to be taken should comply with both local and international laws. It is necessary to go through the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) for any actions taken to be accepted“, Benter said.
“The Immovable Property Commission has become an application party for the foundations because they saw that it was our right after examining the documents presented by the foundations and the Ottoman-British deeds“, he said.
Benter emphasised that any actions in this regard should be taken through the IPC. In this way, both the rights of the applicant and the foundations can be protected, he said. Dr Benter went on to state that everyone knows that the land is the property of the foundations. He also pointed out that those who build on the land should sign a rental agreement with the foundations, adding that, “Everyone accepts this“.
Evkaf Title Deeds
Benter stated that “the land belongs to the foundation… We have Ottoman deeds that clearly prove that it belongs to the Evkaf and British deeds“. He underlined that transactions can be carried out more quickly and easily with a special law and said, “Foundation means society; we are not a profit-oriented private company, and no one’s rights should be violated“.
Maraş, which is under Turkish Cypriot control and uninhabited since the 1974 War, measures 2.3 square miles, is a suburb of Famagusta.
Greek Cypriots have stated that they own properties on this land. The UN and European Parliament have passed resolutions demanding it is returned to its “lawful” inhabitants, while South Cyprus leaders regularly propose Greek Cypriots be allowed back to “their” properties as a confidence-building preliminary to the Cyprus talks.
The counter argument is that a number experts carried out a study in 2009 to determine the number of Vakif owned properties. In an article published by LGC News in January 2022, Dr. Benter said that the deal signed with the British in 1878 clearly stated that Evkaf properties could not be sold or transferred to others. “We have all the title deeds and legal documents to back up our claim”, he argued.