Claims that the fenced-off town of Maras/Varosha are Evkaf property are not valid, Turkish Cypriot lawyer Murat Metin Hakki has said.
Hakki, in an interview with Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Yeni Duzen’ went on to say that:
“According to international law, the 1974 land registry books should be taken as the basis. Other claims are legally groundless.
“In 1956, the Evkaf was transferred from the British to the Turkish leadership. The 1963 incidents led to the expulsion of Turkish Cypriots from many authorities, but the judiciary continued to be bi-communal until 1966.
“ In 1965, Makarios even appointed Zeka Bey [Mehmet Zekia] as the Chief Justice of the whole island. (…) A large part of the original title deed records are available. When we look at the origins of these land registry books, especially in 1913, it seems that most of the property belongs to foundation [vakif] properties. (…) Regarding these foundation properties, it was possible to exchange one property with another or to exchange it for money. (…)
“The star of Varosha shone between 1960-1974. An important issue that should not be forgotten in this matter is that if there was an irregularity regarding the properties of the foundation (Vakif), there was a statute of limitations. So, if there was a mistake, if a foundation property was unjustly passed to someone else, if the British did so, as it is claimed, the limitation period was 36 years. In other words, if there was an irregularity in 1925, the limitation period expired in 1961. (…)
“When the foundation agreements were held in 1960, a payment of 1.5 million sterling was made to our community leaders and to the foundation organisation, which was then called the High Council of Evkaf (foundations) to be used for the purposes of education and the development of the Evkaf properties. As a result of this payment, the communal leaders in the future would not make any financial claims or in any other context in connection with the Cyprus administration, against the British government, the colonial government or the new Cyprus state government. So, this means that if there was an irregularity, we had no legal claims on this (…)”