Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Today (26.09.15), in its front page with the above title, publishes the following article:
“Hundreds of British expats attended a meeting on Thursday in Girne (editor’s note: the occupied town of Keryneia) to learn about developments in the Cyprus peace talks – with demands made that they are treated equally with Cypriots on the thorny issue of property rights. The meeting was organised by the British Residents Society (BRS) following discussions with president Mustafa Akinci (editor’s note: the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci) earlier this month.
BRS officials told a grim-faced audience that, contrary to the previous position of Turkish Cypriot negotiators, Mr Akinci had insisted that ‘no global approach would take place’ to resolve the property issue.
Government liaison officer Mike Maternghan said: ‘Property is at the centre of our hearts and is the centre of negotiations. We had a meeting with Mr Akinci at great length and put forward our concerns, on behalf of all property owners.
We asked whether all would be treated equally in resolving the property issue, to which Mr Akinci reassured us that non-TRNC nationals (editor’s note: TRNC is the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus recognized only by Turkey) would be treated in the same manner.’
BRS members met with Mr Akinci earlier this month after expressing their ‘grave concern’ over an announcement that a new independent ‘property commission’ would be established in the event of a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Mr Maternghan continued: ‘We informed the president of the German example following World War II, where property issues were settled primarily through compensation over a period of 20 to 30 years, which was facilitated by the German government.
I also found it interesting that he continuously referred to ‘Turkish Cypriots’ and ‘Greek Cypriots’. There are no derailed detailed criteria yet for non-Cypriots on both sides of the island. We are asking for equal rights and treatment.’
Describing Mr Akinci as a ‘very generous and honest man’, Mr Maternghan told BRS members that he had emphasized to the president (editor’s note: the Turkish Cypriot leader) the ‘major contribution’ British residents had made to the TRNC economy. He said that Mr Akinci had reassured him that all TRNC title deeds would be ‘honoured’.
He added: ‘Who will fund a settlement? Billions of dollars will be needed. It will not be us. Mr Akinci made it very clear that the money must be found before a referendum – these are his words, not mine. It is imperative that the finances of a settlement are calculated properly and found before a referendum.’
BRS deputy chairman and Cyprus Today columnist Stephen Day said the two sides in Cyprus ‘were still in deep disagreement’ over the property issue.
‘It is true that agreement has been reached to form a new property commission. But the Turkish Cypriots want it to operate as the current immovable property commission, which successfully handle Greek Cypriot applications and provides adequate remedies in compensating them’, he stated.
‘But the Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, want the new property commission to accept the former Greek Cypriot owner as having the first right of say. The sides are completely miles apart.
‘The president assured us that he will not accept this and we are thankful for that. But it doesn’t bring the sides any closer to unification.’
Mr Day added: ‘The Turkish Cypriots believe the settlement will bring about a new Cyprus Federation with two zones. But the Greek Cypriots say the currently internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus will continue.
‘We told the president that you cannot maintain a long-term existence of a Turkish Cypriot zone if the Accession Treaty signed by the Republic of Cyprus continues in the absence of permanent derogations – or exemptions – from EU law.
‘The Turkish Cypriots have to understand this very important issue.
‘Then what will happen? We go back to 1963 and the mayhem will start all over again.
‘The UN should look at the countries surrounding Cyprus which have war, violence and mayhem. Cyprus right now is a peace beacon in this region. The UN should leave Cyprus alone and recognise the Turkish Cypriots’.”