Property Commission overwhelmed by compensation claims

The Property Commission established by Turkey to compensate Greek Cypriot property owners in the North for their losses following the 1974 peace keeping operation by Turkey, is struggling to cope with the amount of claims it has received.

According to newly-launched Turkish Cypriot newspaper ‘Realist’, lawyer Hakan Sonya has reported that “no matter how good were the intentions of the Property Compensation Commission from the day of its establishment and even though it continues its works within the framework of the duties given to it, it seems far from being an institution that works effectively in the situation created today”.

Sonya noted that there are many reasons for this and added that one of them is the fact that the number of applications which have been filed up to the beginning of 2014 exceeds the capacity of the Commission. On the other hand, he said, the Commission lacks an automation system and a “disconnection” exists among the institutions in the TRNC. He also argued that the decision by South Cyprus not to issue new title deeds for the  Greek Cypriot properties in the North, “completely stopped the procedures” of the Commission.

He went on to say that the Commission does not pay compensation without the presentation of an up-to-date document and therefore “the Greek Cypriots, who wait for a payment for months, even if they are invited today, will not be able to take the compensation they have the right to take, because, of the delay, they will not be able to secure the necessary document”.

Asked whether the community of the lawyers in the TRNC is dissatisfied with the Commission, Sonya replied that “it is undeniable that dissatisfaction exists among the lawyers regarding the procedures of the Commission”. He added: “Justice, which is established with delay, is not justice. If a Greek Cypriot has filed his application in 2011 and he has still not received a reply today, we cannot refer to a Commission which no longer functions properly”.

According to Sonya, another problem is that some persons are represented by people who are not lawyers who file applications in the name of some property owners or follow the affairs of Greek Cypriot property owners at the Commission as if they were a lawyer.

Sonya said also that he has a client who has accepted a proposal submitted to him by the Commission 14 months ago and today they are still waiting for the procedure to be completed and receive the compensation. He noted that the Commission told them that the payments are made by the Ministry of Finance and if they were not satisfied with the situation they could apply to court. “….. an official proposal is submitted to our client and most of the time, the payment is not made without any pretext”, he said.

According to the paper, 5,704 applications have been submitted to the Commission since 2006 and only 594 were concluded. The paper draws attention to the fact that, in 2013, during which 1,337 applications were filed, only two applications were concluded. Most applications were filed in 2011, when their number reached 1,926. The most applications were concluded in 2010, when 165 cases were completed. Since 2006 the Commission paid £142.366.621 for compensation and loss of use of property. In 2013, during which the lowest number of cases were completed, £33.952.775 was paid out.

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