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Turkey Urged to Pay Compensation Over Missing Greek Cypriots

The invasion of Cyprus in 1974 by Turkey ended up in the division of the country into two separate parts, and many people lost lives, livelihoods and their property as a result. The ECHR has ruled that Turkey must pay restitution to the families of Greek Cypriots who are still missing from that invasion. Credit: Facebook/Nakvat Hatikva Hakimov

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted an Interim Resolution this week regarding Greek Cypriots, saying that it had profound concerns over Turkey’s delay in paying damages related to its 1974 invasion of Cyprus.

It urged Turkish authorities to adhere to its international obligations and pay the “just satisfaction” that the European Court of Human Rights ordered be paid to relatives of nine Greek Cypriots who are still missing as a result of Turkey’s brutal invasion of Cyprus.

Back in September 2009, the ECHR ruled that Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights because of its failure to conduct effective investigations into what happened to the missing and the “inhumane” treatment of their families.

The Court declared that Turkey was responsible for paying a total of 108,000 euros in damages plus 72,000 euros in costs and expenses to the relatives by December 18, 2009.

In their Interim Resolution, the Committee of Ministers stated that the great delays in paying the compensation constitutes a flagrant violation of Turkey’s international obligations as not only a member of the Council of Europe but a party to the European Convention on Human Rights as well.

The Committee will resume its consideration of the ongoing case at its meeting in March 2023 to supervise the execution of judgements handed down by the ECHR.

Related: Shouldn’t the West Sanction Turkey over Cyprus Invasion Like it Has Russia?

Hundreds of people still remain unaccounted for after the invasion, which took place after a coup destabilized the island nation.

Since that time, Turkish troops have occupied the northern third of the island and established a state there that is recognized by no other nation than Turkey. That nation has also moved many of its own people to the area to increase the ethnic Turkish population there.

The damages and restitution called for in the judgement were the largest amount of compensation to ever be adjudicated by the international body.

In 2014, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had declared the ECHR’s ruling would “neither be binding nor carry any value” for Ankara, according to Hurriyet.

“The case has been brought to the agenda within a decade and in international law, it’s actually not binding and it does not have any value with respect to our views. It has many legal disadvantages and the timing is very problematic,” Davutoğlu told reporters on May 12, 2014.

Learn more: Identifying the remains of the missing in 1974 Cyprus invasion

“If there is such a sanction, this is of course a probability; we’ll be giving an official view,” the minister said, adding that the timing of the judgment was inappropriate because the reunification talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots were “actually getting to a certain pace, after so many efforts.”

“Such a decision will affect the psychological atmosphere of the comprehensive negotiations on the island. It’s not correct if there is such a sanction; this is going to affect the peace negotiations on Cyprus. It’s going negatively affect the psychological atmosphere,” he said.

In an earlier judgment, handed down on May 10, 2001, the ECHR ruled that Turkey had violated conventions a number of times in northern Cyprus in July and August of 1974.

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