By Kyriacos Kyriacou – Nicosia
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled on Monday that Turkey is obliged to pay 90 ml euros to the Republic of Cyprus for the violation of human rights during and after the 1974 invasion of the island.
More specifically the Court held that Turkey was to pay Cyprus 30 mln euros in respect of the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the relatives of the missing persons, and 60 mln euros in respect of the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents of the Karpas peninsula.
The amounts are to be distributed by the Cypriot Government to the individual victims under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers.
This decision marks the largest sum ever awarded by the ECHR in a case regarding Cypriot refugees and the 1974 invasion.
According to an ECHR Press Release, issued on Monday, the Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Cyprus v. Turkey is final and was taken by a majority.
Turkey is required to comply within 18 months. For every day that passes after the 18 month mark, a penalty will be added.
In its ruling, the ECHR said the passage of time did not absolve Turkey from its responsibility. While the sum was only announced today, the original ECHR judgement was delivered 13 years ago, on May 10, 2001.
Although the court’s decision is final, Turkish Foreign Affairs minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded by saying that it was not binding, according to the Cyprus News Agency.
“This trial came back in the news after ten years. Definitely, when it comes to international law this decision is not binding. On the justice side, besides the fact that this decision is flawed, it comes at a very bad time since the Cyprus problem negotiations are on going,” he said. “A procedure has begun, initiated by Turkey, so from a psychological point of view it will not do the negotiations any good. This decision is not consistent with the atmosphere and climate that was spurred by the Cyprus negotiations so far.”
Cyprus government welcomes
Τhe Cyprus government has welcomed Monday’s ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) according to which Turkey is obliged to pay 90mln euros to the Republic of Cyprus for the violation of human rights during and after the 1974 invasion of the island.
In a written statement, Government Spokesman points out, in particular, the reference of the Court that Turkey “has not fully complied with the decision of 2001 at the Fourth Intestate Appeal of the Republic of Cyprus against Turkey, and that this compliance is not consistent with any permit, participation or complicity in any illegal sale or exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied areas”.
The Spokesman also welcomed the adjudication of compensation for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the relatives of the missing persons in the amount of 30 million euro. As far as the adjudication of compensation for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the enclaved persons (in the Turkish occupied areas) in the amount of 60 million euro, and in spite of the fact that the persecution and the suffering they have endured cannot be assessed in monetary terms, the Government of Cyprus welcomes the fact that the Court “condemns, in this way, one more time, the Turkish policy of the violations of the human rights of the enclaved persons as well as the effort to change the demographic character of the occupied areas”.
The Turkish invasion
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus launched on July 20, 1974, was a Turkish military invasion in response to the 1974 Cypriot coup d’état. The coup had been ordered by the military Junta in Greece and staged by the Cypriot National Guard in conjunction with the Greek Cypriot paramilitary organisation “EOKA-B”. It deposed the Cypriot president Archbishop Makarios III and installed Nikos Sampson, a leader in favour of Enosis, the union of Cyprus with Greece.
In July 1974, Turkish forces invaded and captured 3% of the island before a ceasefire was declared. The Greek military junta collapsed and was replaced by democratic government. In August 1974, further Turkish invasion resulted in the capture of 40% of the island. The ceasefire line from August 1974 became the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus and is commonly referred to as the Green Line.
More than one quarter of the population of Cyprus was expelled from the occupied northern part of the island, where Greek Cypriots constituted 80% of the population. A little over a year later in 1975, there was also a flow of roughly 60,000 Turkish Cypriots from the south to the north after the conflict. The Turkish invasion ended in the partition of Cyprus along the UN-monitored Green Line which still divides Cyprus. In 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declared independence, although Turkey is the only country which recognises it.