Maraş Beach Opened – What Now?

North Cyprus News - Varosha VisitorsA report from BBC – Turkey has asked what are the next steps following the reopening of the Maraş shoreline to the public.

The event sparked outrage, particularly on the Greek Cypriot side, which felt that its chances of return were fading even more.

Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, who announced the decision which was backed by Turkey, said that no violation of UN resolutions had been made by giving public access to the beachfront as this was a public area. Both Tatar and Turkey maintain that Maraş belongs to the TRNC but claimants to property in the fenced-off town will be heard.

Several observers have commented that no moves can be made regarding the area until it formally becomes a demilitarised zone and control is handed over to the civil authorities.

Greek Cypriot property claimants [Loizidou in 1989 and Xenides-Arestis in 2005] applied to Turkey and then to the ECHR for redress, the ECHR ruled that Loizidou be compensated. In 2005, the ECHR ruled that domestic remedies had not been exhausted and so the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) was formed. Since then, 180 million pounds sterling have been paid to claimants in compensation and two claimants were permitted to return to the north to reclaim their properties. Latterly, the IPC has run out of funds.

North Cyprus News - Dr Ibrahim Benter-Head of Admin-EVKAF
Dr. Ibrahim Benter – Chief Administrator – Evkaf

Over the past couple of years a new element regarding property claims in Maraş emerged. The head of the religious foundation, Evkaf, Dr İbrahim Benter, said that most of the property in Maraş belonged to the foundation. He said that those properties in the Maraş/Varosha region were illegally transferred to individuals under the British Administration. This claim was refuted because the British colonial government in 1960 had paid the Turkish Cypriot leadership 1.5 million pounds in compensation with the understanding that there could be no further claims to property rights. 

In September 2019, former TRNC Prime Minister Ferdi Soyer dropped a bombshell on Evkaf claims to Maraş/Varosha. The Abdullah Pasha Foundation, which the Evkaf said was the owner of the fenced-off city of Varosha/Maraş, had been compensated and closed down in 1933, Soyer said. However, today, Dr Benter maintains that Evkaf still has those property rights. A claim backed by Turkey and Prime Minister Tatar.

All these elements add to the mix in a stalemate. 

How will all this be resolved given that the act of reopening the town, albeit only the beachfront, has been said to jeopardise future Cyprus negotiations? 

What will influence future negotiations is the outcome of the presidential elections on Sunday. Presidential candidate Prime Minister Ersin Tatar is from the right-wing, proposes two separate states and is backed by Turkey, meanwhile incumbent presidential candidate Mustafa Akinci has stuck to the idea of federation in an EU state. These are the two main candidates in the event of a run-off according to the polls. Amongst the others in the running are former prime minister and CTP leader Tufan Erhurman and Deputy Prime Minister Kudret Ozersay who is an independent candidate.

Yeniduzen, LGC News

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