Ministers' Deputies
    Information Documents

    CM/Inf/DH(2009)39 …………..10 September 20091
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    Case of Cyprus against Turkey, judgment of 10/05/01 - Grand Chamber - Living conditions of Greek Cypriots in the northern part of Cyprus – Property rights of enclaved persons

    Memorandum prepared by the Department for the execution of judgments of the ECHR (Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs) – Version updated for the 1065th meeting
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1. The purpose of this document is to summarise the information received during examination of the case by the Deputies at the Committee of Ministers’ meetings with respect to property rights of enclaved persons (violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention).

2. This document is an update of document CM/Inf/DH(2007)10/6 of 30 May 2007.

3. This matter was last discussed at the 1059th meeting of the Committee of Ministers (2-5 June 2009).

    Table of contents

    I. General information 2
    II. Property rights of Greek Cypriots who permanently leave the northern part of Cyprus 2
    III. Inheritance rights of persons living in the south in respect of property situated in the northern
    part of Cyprus owned by deceased Greek Cypriots 8

    Appendix – “Decision of the TRNC Council of Ministers” dated 27 February 2008 (English only) ....10

Continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1

1. The Court noted that “as regards ownership of property in the north, the “TRNC” practice is not to make any distinction between displaced Greek Cypriot owners and Karpas Greek Cypriot owners who leave the “TRNC” permanently, with the result that the latter’s immovable property is deemed to be “abandoned” and liable to reallocation to third parties in the “TRNC””. Consequently, the Court found that there was a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of Greek Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus in that their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions was not secured in case of their permanent departure from that territory (§ 269 of the judgment).

2. The Court also held that there had been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in that the inheritance rights of persons living in the south in connection with the property situated in the northern part of Cyprus owed by their deceased Greek Cypriot relatives were not recognised. Three findings led it to reach this conclusion, i.e.:

    - “the property of Greek Cypriots in the north cannot be bequeathed by them on death and … it passes to the authorities as “abandoned” property”;
    - given the above finding, it did not appear that “legal proceedings would hold out any prospects of success” where a court remedy was invoked before the “TRNC courts”;
    - finally, “heirs living in the south would in fact be prevented from having physical access to any property which they inherited”.

    I. GENERAL INFORMATION

    Information/observations submitted by the Turkish authorities

    3. “Article 36 of the TRNC Constitution” guarantees the right to ownership and inheritance of the Greek Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus who are “citizens of the TRNC”. Furthermore, according to “Article 13 of the TRNC Constitution”, “the rights and liberties referred to in the Constitution may be restricted by law in respect of aliens, in accordance with international law”. It follows from this provision that Greek Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus who are not “citizens of the TRNC” enjoy similar rights to ownership and inheritance of property, subject to certain restrictions.

    4. This interpretation of “Article 13” was confirmed by a judgment of the “TRNC Constitutional Court” of 2006: asked whether this provision was limited to the restriction of (property) rights of aliens or whether it also recognised the (property) rights of aliens, the “Constitutional Court” ruled for the latter, rejecting the arguments of the petitioner that aliens do not have property rights.

II. PROPERTY RIGHTS OF GREEK CYPRIOTS WHO PERMANENTLY LEAVE THE NORTHERN PART OF CYPRUS

    Information/observations submitted by the Turkish authorities

    5. The Turkish authorities consider that the legislative measures they have taken have rectified the situation of interference with the property rights of Karpas Greek Cypriot owners who permanently leave the “TRNC”, criticised in the European Court's judgment.

    6. Two legal texts introduced following the European Court's judgment are applicable here: the “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” of 27 February 20082, adopted pursuant to the “Housing, Land Distribution and Property Law, No. 41/77” (“Law 41/77”) and “Law 67/2005 on Compensation, Exchange and Restitution for Immovable Properties” (“Law 67/2005”).

    7. In order to clarify the legal context of the “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” of 27 February 2008, it has been recalled that under “Article 159(1)(b) of the TRNC Constitution”, ownership of properties deemed to have been abandoned after 1975 is deemed to pass to the “State”. “Article 159(3) of the Constitution” states that the transfer of such properties to other persons will be regulated by law. In this case the law in question is “Law 41/77” which governs the consequences of the abandonment of such properties.

    8. “Article 2 of Law 41/77” specifies that the purpose of the Law is to lay down rules for dealing with the consequences of the “abandonment” of immovable property by “aliens”. The Law does not, however, define the circumstances which constitute “abandonment”, but defines who is to be deemed an “alien” for the purposes of the Law. The definition of “aliens” is not exhaustive and the Law allows the “Council of Ministers” to decide who is governed by it.

    9. Under the “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” of 27 February 2008, aliens who move their permanent residence from the northern to the southern part of Cyprus and do not exercise the option to transfer the ownership of their properties within one year of their permanent departure will be deemed “aliens” for the purposes of “Law 41/77”. The decision states that “permanent residence” is defined on the basis of the interested party's intent.3 This is determined by a number of criteria, such as workplace, family ties, participation in public life, financial investments, home, and other similar factors (cf. letter b) of the decision).

    10. In practice, Greek Cypriots who have left Karpas can retain ownership of their property if they continue to work in Karpas, have family ties in the “TRNC”, participate in social life (as members of associations or political parties, for example) or if they have made financial investments there (if they have a bank account, for example), or if they consider their property to be their home. Moreover, the list of criteria given in the decision is not exhaustive.

    11. This new regulation thus implies that Greek Cypriots living in Karpas can keep the ownership of their properties after they leave the “TRNC” as long as they continue to maintain minimal contacts with their property and/or ties with the community in the Karpas region.

    12. The Turkish authorities take the view that the “Council of Ministers decision” has made it highly unlikely that property owned by Greek Cypriots who have left the northern part of Cyprus could be declared “abandoned”. They also indicate that the requirement to maintain minimal contacts is based on the need to ensure that the Karpas region does not become depopulated. They further state that the measures taken to remedy continuing violations of the property rights of Greek Cypriots who have permanently left the northern part of Cyprus are part of a broader legislative framework introduced to meet the housing needs of displaced populations who have settled in the “TRNC”.4

    13. As for the procedure applicable, the Turkish authorities specified that “permanent residence” and the intent of the person concerned are determined by the “Housing Ministry”. Under “Article 152 of the TRNC Constitution”, the Ministry's decision can be appealed against before the “High Administrative Court”.5 The appeal must be lodged within 75 days of the date of publication of the decision concerned. If the decision is not published, this period runs from the moment when the interested party became cognisant of the decision. The “High Administrative Court” may uphold the Ministry's decision or declare it null and void.

    14. The decision delivered by the “High Administrative Court” is binding on all courts and all agencies and authorities of the “State”. Anyone who feels he has suffered a prejudice as a result of a decision which has been declared null and void by the “High Court” may bring a claim for damages before the competent courts.

    15. The Turkish authorities recalled in this respect6 that the European Court's judgment in Cyprus v. Turkey makes reference to the Commission's observation that the local courts had ruled in favour of a number of Greek Cypriots who claimed that their properties had been wrongfully allocated under the applicable domestic rules.7 The European Court also stated that the “TRNC” courts had, on occasion, found in favour of Greek Cypriot litigants.8

    16. In cases where minimal contacts are not maintained, Greek Cypriot residents of Karpas who have left the northern part of Cyprus will be able to transfer ownership of their property to a person of their choice, provided they start the relevant legal proceedings within one year of their departure.9 For example, interested parties may transfer their property to Greek Cypriots living in Karpas or to another person of their choice. If these persons are not “citizens of the TRNC” the transfer may be made with the consent of the “Council of Ministers”, as envisaged in “Article 9 of the Acquisition and Long-Term Lease of Immovable Property (Aliens) Law (No. 52/2008)”.10

    17. In exceptional cases where minimal contacts are not deemed to be maintained and ownership rights have not been transferred, persons who have permanently left the northern part of Cyprus will be deemed “aliens” within the meaning of “Law 41/77” and their property will be distributed principally to refugees under the terms of that law.11 Greek Cypriots in this situation may apply to the “Immovable Property Commission” (established under “Law 67/2005”) to have their property assessed with a view to receiving compensation or an exchange of property.

    18. The Turkish authorities recalled that according to the European Court's finding “the new compensation and restitution mechanism, in principle, has taken care of the requirements of the decision of the Court on admissibility of 14 March 2005 and the judgment on the merits of 22 December 2005” (judgment of 07/12/2006 in Xenides-Arestis, §37).

    19. The Turkish authorities also stress that an application to the “Immovable Property Commission” allows former Karpas residents to obtain the restitution of their property and re-establish residence in the region. They point out that the “Commission” has already reached friendly settlements in four cases, entailing the immediate restitution of the properties concerned.12

    20. Regarding the issue of the “legal validity” of the provisions on which the above measures are based, raised by the Cypriot authorities, the Turkish authorities point out in particular that the European Court, in its judgment in Cyprus v. Turkey, clarified the context in which it found in the Loizidou case that it “cannot attribute legal validity for purposes of the Convention to such provisions as Article 159 of the fundamental law”13. The Court noted in §89 of its Cyprus v. Turkey judgment that the conclusion it reached in the Loizidou case was made “with respect to the Convention”, and that it was “all the more compelling since the article in question [“Article 159 of the Constitution”] purported to vest in the “TRNC” authorities, irreversibly and without payment of any compensation, the applicant's rights to her land in northern Cyprus”. But Greek Cypriots now have opportunities for obtaining compensation, exchange or restitution which have made up for the shortcomings identified by the Court at the time.14

    21. In this context the Turkish authorities also indicate that the question of the “legality” of “Law 67/2005” which introduced the compensation, exchange and restitution mechanism in the northern part of Cyprus had previously been raised by the Cypriot authorities before the European Court in the Xenides-Arestis case (judgment of 7 December 2006, §19). They underline the fact that the Court had not pursued this point further, but welcomed the steps taken by the Government in an effort to provide redress for the violations of the applicant's Convention rights as well in respect of all similar applications pending before it.15

    22. In the light of the above considerations, the Turkish authorities consider that the measures taken are sufficient for the purposes of executing the Court's judgments and that the examination of the issue of the property rights of Greek Cypriots who permanently leave the northern part of Cyprus should now be closed.

    Information/observations submitted by the Cypriot authorities

    23. According to the Cypriot authorities,16 even if one concedes that restrictions on the property rights of Greek Cypriots permanently leaving the northern part of Cyprus have been limited, these restrictions nevertheless remain and constitute a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

    24. Firstly, the Cypriot authorities consider that the measures taken by the Turkish authorities are based on provisions that have no validity in law. They recall that the European Court's Grand Chamber, in its judgment of 18 December 1996 in Loizidou v. Turkey, held that “the Court cannot attribute legal validity for purposes of the Convention to such provisions as Article 159 of the fundamental law” of the “TRNC” (§44 of the judgment). In the view of the Cypriot authorities, instruments based on “Article 159 of the Constitution”, notably “Law 41/77” and “Law 67/2005” are likewise not valid in law. Reference is made here to the Grand Chamber's judgment of 10 May 2001 in Cyprus v. Turkey, where the Court held that “Law 52/1995” (which amended “Law 41/77”) cannot be attributed any more legal validity than its parent “Article 159” which it purports to implement17.

    25. The Cypriot authorities also argue that remedies introduced by an entity that is not recognised are only valid within the meaning of the Convention if these bring benefit to the persons concerned, which they claim is not the case with the measures taken for Greek Cypriots permanently leaving the northern part of Cyprus. The authorities refer in particular to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in the case of Namibia,18 as interpreted by the European Court in its judgment in Cyprus v. Turkey (previously quoted).

    26. Moreover, as regards in particular the “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” of 27 February 2008, the Cypriot authorities consider that it does not constitute an effective remedy capable of putting an end to the continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 found by the Court. The Cypriot authorities note that this decision lacks clarity and foreseeability and consequently is not a “law” as understood by the Convention. The Cypriot authorities also raise a number of questions about the procedure for determining the “permanent residence” of the persons concerned. These questions concern, inter alia, the parties' participation in the proceedings and their ability to appeal against the merits of the decision.

    27. The Cypriot authorities also consider that the reasons which the Turkish authorities adduce to justify the requirement that Greek Cypriots must maintain minimal contacts with the Karpas region in order to preserve their property rights are inadequate. They note in particular that similar measures are not imposed on the other residents of the region to prevent depopulation. The Cypriot authorities also indicate that displaced Turkish Cypriots and settlers from the Turkish mainland have taken up residence in Karpas and that tourist developments have been built there.19

    28. In this context the Cypriot authorities further argue that “Law 41/77” and the “decision of the Council of Ministers” discriminate against Greek Cypriots, persons who are not “citizens of the TRNC” and “aliens who move their permanent residence from the “TRNC” to the area under Greek Cypriot administration”.

    29. Lastly, regarding the compensation, exchange and restitution mechanism introduced by “Law 67/2005”, the Greek Cypriot authorities underlined that its legality and effectiveness are currently the subject of eight cases pending before the Grand Chamber.

    Assessment

    1) Situation which gave rise to the finding of a violation

    30. It is important to recall that European Court concluded that there was a violation of Article 1 of the Protocol No. 1, in respect of Greek Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus in that the practice of the “TRNC” at the time of the facts was “not to make any distinction between displaced Greek Cypriot owners and Karpas Greek Cypriot owners who leave the “TRNC” permanently", with the result that the latter's immovable property is deemed to be “abandoned” and liable to reallocation to third parties in the “TRNC”” (§269 of the judgment). The Commission also noted that there were no remedies available to interested parties to contest this state of affairs (§266 of the judgment). The Court further considered that it was not necessary to examine whether during the period under consideration there had been a violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with the relevant legal texts.

    2) Current situation

    31. The Committee of Ministers has already noted with satisfaction that “according to the explanations given by the Turkish authorities the restrictions regarding the property rights of Greek Cypriots permanently leaving the northern part of Cyprus […] have been relaxed” and pointed out that “the relevant regulation, as well as the practice relating to this regulation, needs some clarification” (decision adopted at the 1043rd meeting, December 2008).

    32. The Turkish authorities subsequently provided further details of the relevant legislation, which are summarised above. In particular they clarified the broader legislative framework of which the “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” of 27 February 2008 is a part, together with the procedure applicable.

    33. According to the information received, the current regulation implies that Greek Cypriots living in Karpas can retain ownership of their property after they leave the “TRNC” as long as they continue to maintain minimal contacts with their property and/or ties with the community in the Karpas region. These ties are determined on the basis of a number of criteria listed in the “TRNC Council of Ministers decision”. As a result, the persons concerned can, in practice, keep the ownership of their property if after their departure they continue, for example, to have family ties in the “TRNC”, participate in social life (as members of associations or political parties) or if they have a bank account in the “TRNC”.

    34. Regarding the procedure applicable, the Turkish authorities indicated that the authority responsible for assessing the existence of minimal contacts/ties with the community in Karpas is the “Housing Ministry”. Its decision can be appealed against before the “High Administrative Court” within 75 days of the date of the decision's publication or, if the decision is not published, within 75 days from the moment when the interested party became cognizant of the decision. It seems that the “High Administrative Court” is empowered to rule both on the formal legality of the "Housing Ministry's" decision and on the merits (cf. §13 above).

    35. In exceptional cases where the persons concerned do not maintain minimal contacts with the community in Karpas, they may transfer their property to designated persons of their choice. Furthermore, a specific remedy is envisaged in exceptional cases where the interested persons have not exercised this option and whose property could thus be reallocated to third parties. Greek Cypriots in this situation can use the new compensation, exchange and restitution mechanism, introduced by “Law 67/2005”, in order to obtain compensation for the value of their property or an exchange of property. It should be noted in this respect that the effectiveness of this mechanism is currently the subject of eight cases pending before the Grand Chamber. That said, it would be helpful to have confirmation from the Turkish authorities that interested parties can submit applications to the “Immovable Property Commission” beyond the current time–limit of 22 December 2009.

    36. In addition, whilst the current regulation does not appear to have retroactive effect, it is clear that persons whose property has already been deemed “abandoned” and reallocated to third parties may also apply to the “Immovable Property Commission” for compensation, exchange or restitution. The Turkish authorities have indicated that former residents of the Karpas region may exercise this option to secure the restitution of their property.

    3) Clarity and foreseeability of the regulation

    37. Regarding the issue raised by the Cypriot authorities in respect to the above regulations’ lack of sufficient clarity and foreseeability, it can be noted that the legal technique chosen by the respondent state is somewhat complex. However, this regulation appears to be formulated “with sufficient precision to enable any individual – if need be with appropriate advice – to regulate his conduct”20 and to that extent it appears to satisfy the requirements of the Convention concerning the “quality of the law”. Examples of the application of these new regulations would be very helpful to confirm its “accessibility” and its “foreseeability”, and to demonstrate how it works in practice. However, given the small number of Greek Cypriots still living in Karpas, it seems unlikely that such examples could be obtained rapidly.

    4) “Legal validity” of the regulation

    38. Regarding the “legal validity” of the regulation on which the measures described above are based, it would seem unwise for the Committee of Ministers to elaborate a general theory concerning the lawfulness of legislative and administrative acts of the “TRNC”. Both the former European Commission and the European Court have avoided making general statements on the validity of acts of the “TRNC” authorities. The European Court recalled in its judgment in Cyprus v. Turkey that “although the Court in its Loizidou judgment (merits) refused to attribute legal validity to such provisions as “Article 159 of the TRNC Constitution”, it did so with respect to the Convention […]. This conclusion was all the more compelling since the Article in question purported to vest in the “TRNC” authorities, irreversibly and without payment of any compensation, the applicant's rights to her land in northern Cyprus” (§89 of the judgment).

    39. On the other hand, the European Court held in the context of the situation in the “TRNC” that the International Court of Justice's opinion in the Namibia case confirmed that “where it can be shown that remedies exist to the advantage of individuals and offer them reasonable prospects of success in preventing violations of the Convention, use should be made of such remedies” (§91 of the judgment in Cyprus v. Turkey, previously quoted). It concluded that “the inhabitants of the territory may be required to exhaust these remedies, unless their inexistence or ineffectiveness can be proved – a point to be examined on a case-by-case basis”. The Turkish authorities rightly pointed out that the European Court took account of the fact that the “TRNC” courts have on occasion found in favour of Greek Cypriot litigants in reaching its conclusion that it has not been established that there was an administrative practice of denying individuals from the enclaved population access to a court to vindicate their civil rights.21

    5) Reasons adduced to support retention of the minimal contacts requirement

    40. Regarding the reasons which the Turkish authorities adduce to maintain the requirement imposed on Greek Cypriots to have minimal contacts with the community in the Karpas region in order to remain holders of their property rights after they have permanently left the “TRNC”, it should be noted that the relevant “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” is part of a broader legislative framework regulating the reallocation of empty dwellings to displaced persons.

    41. It is important to note in this respect that in its well established case-law the European Court holds that “the margin of appreciation available to the legislature in implementing social and economic policies should be a wide one and will respect the legislature's judgment as to what is “in the public interest” unless that judgment is manifestly without reasonable foundation”.22 The objective here of maintaining a certain level of population in the Karpas region, including the reallocation of empty Greek Cypriot-owned properties to displaced persons or third parties needing to be housed, would not appear to be “manifestly without reasonable foundation”. According to the European Court's well established case-law, the consideration to be weighed here is whether the interference in property rights is proportionate. In particular, the Court rules that “compensation terms under the relevant domestic legislation are material to the assessment whether the contested measure respects the requisite fair balance and, notably, whether it imposes a disproportionate burden on the applicants”.23

    In this case, not only the current regulation has limited the cases where properties owned by Greek Cypriots who leave the northern part of Cyprus can be considered as “abandoned”, but a new option has also been offered to persons concerned to apply for compensation to the current value of the properties in question.

    42. In these circumstances it does not appear appropriate for the Committee of Ministers to look in depth at the question of whether the reasons which the Turkish authorities adduce to maintain the minimal contacts requirement are adequate or justified. The same goes for the question of alleged “discrimination” between the different groups of people, especially as the European Court does not address this issue in its judgment.

    6) Conclusion

    43. In view of the above, it is to be noted that the current situation regarding the property rights of Greek Cypriots who have permanently left the northern part of Cyprus is noticeably different from that criticised in the European Court's judgment. Under the regulation currently in force, Greek Cypriots can keep the ownership of their property after their permanent departure from the northern part of Cyprus provided they maintain minimal contacts with that region, for example if they have a bank account or are members of an association there. Interested parties can appeal to the “High Administrative Court” against the assessment by the ministry responsible of whether minimal contacts are maintained in their case. Additionally, in cases where minimal contacts are not maintained and the interested parties have not transferred their properties to designated persons of their choice, they can apply to the “Immovable Property Commission” to receive compensation, an exchange of property or the restitution of their property.

    44. It should be noted in this respect that the effectiveness of the compensation, exchange and restitution mechanism is the subject of a number of cases pending before the Court and that the Court's conclusions on the matter could be decisive for the assessment of the measures proposed by the Turkish authorities. Consequently, discussion of the question of the property rights of Greek Cypriots who permanently leave the northern part of Cyprus might be resumed once the Court has given its ruling. Pending the Court's decision it would be helpful to have confirmation from the Turkish authorities that the time-limit for applications to the “Immovable Property Commission” has been extended. A number of further details would also be helpful concerning the procedure involving the “Housing Ministry”, described earlier, notably in relation to the publication and notification of its decisions.

    III. INHERITANCE RIGHTS OF PERSONS LIVING IN THE SOUTH IN RESPECT OF PROPERTY SITUATED IN THE NORTHERN PART OF CYPRUS OWNED BY DECEASED GREEK CYPRIOTS

    Information/observations submitted by the Turkish authorities

    45. As regards the inheritance rights of persons living in the southern part of Cyprus in respect of property located in the northern part of Cyprus owned by their deceased Greek Cypriot relatives, the Turkish authorities indicated that, at present, they may be exercised without any restriction.

    46. The requirement, stipulated in the “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” of July 2002, that heirs must start the necessary proceedings for administration of an estate situated in the northern part of Cyprus within one year of their relative's death has been abolished. The new February 2008 “decision of the TRNC Council of Ministers”, previously quoted, says that such persons are subject to the same laws regarding inheritance that apply to “citizens of the TRNC”.

    47. Legislation applicable here includes the “Wills and Succession Law (Chapter 195)” and the “Law on the Administration of Estates (Chapter 189)”. Neither of these laws makes any distinction between “citizens” and “aliens”.24

    48. Once the procedure for administering an estate has been completed, heirs can enjoy their property on the same terms as Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas region. Heirs may also apply directly to the “Immovable Property Commission” for compensation or an exchange of property.

    The authorities also report that this “Commission” has already taken five decisions in cases of this kind (numbers 2/2006, 3/2006, 4/2006, 7/2006 and 25/2006). In one case the heir had the property in question returned to him under a friendly settlement with the “Commission”.25

    49. Furthermore, a certain number of applications to “TRNC” courts by Greek Cypriots for inheritance claims from 1979 to the present day have been registered in the Famagusta District Court Probate Register. Examples are:
    (i) Application for inheritance No. 187/2001 where inheritance rights of the wife of a Greek Cypriot who had died intestate were recognised;
    (ii) Application for inheritance No. 61/1998 where a will was proved on 30 April 1998 in favour of a cousin of a Greek Cypriot.

    50. In the light of the above considerations the Turkish authorities consider that the examination of the issue of the inheritance rights of persons living in the south in respect of property situated in the northern part of Cyprus owned by deceased Greek Cypriots should be closed.

    Information/observations submitted by the Cypriot authorities

    51. The observations submitted by the Cypriot authorities on the matter of the property rights of Greek Cypriots who permanently leave the northern part of Cyprus (§§23-29 above) are also relevant as regards the inheritance rights of persons living in the south in respect of property in the northern part owned by deceased Greek Cypriots.

    Assessment

    52. It emerges from the information provided by the Turkish authorities that under the new “TRNC Council of Ministers decision” of 27 February 2008, previously quoted, the inheritance rights of persons living in the south in respect of property situated in the northern part of Cyprus owned by deceased Greek Cypriots are subject to the regulation applicable, according to the very terms of the decisions, to the “citizens of the TRNC”. Moreover, according to the information provided, once the procedure for administering an estate has been completed, heirs can enjoy their property on the same terms as Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas region. In particular, if they maintain minimal contacts with the region they can keep the ownership of their property under the regulation which applies to persons permanently leaving the northern part (cf. above). Heirs may also apply directly to the “Immovable Property Commission” for compensation or an exchange of property.

    53. In the light of this information it would appear that the inheritance rights in question are now recognised. Given that the European Court's conclusions as to the effectiveness of the compensation, exchange and restitution mechanism are also likely to be relevant for the examination of the inheritance rights in question, this examination could also be resumed once the Court has given its ruling. In the meantime, it would be helpful to have confirmation from the Turkish authorities that persons inheriting properties situated in the northern part of Cyprus from deceased Greek Cypriots can submit applications to the “Immovable Property Commission” beyond the current time-limit of 22 December 2009.

    Appendix

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
Note 2 Appended.
Note 3 The Turkish authorities have indicated that this concept of “permanent residence” is specific to the purposes of “Law 41/77” and that it is not necessary to prove it by means of a permanent resident's permit (cf. Memorandum of 06/05/09 from the Turkish authorities, DD(2009)279, distributed 19/05/09, p. 3).
Note 4 Cf. Memorandum of 06/05/09 from the Turkish authorities, previously quoted p. 9.
Note 5 Article 152 of the “TRNC Constitution” says that the “High Administrative Court” has exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate on claims that a decision, act or omission on the part of a person exercising administrative or executive power is unconstitutional or in conflict with a law or with secondary legislation.
Note 6 Cf. the information submitted to the Turkish authorities on 30/06/09 (available on request from the Secretariat).
Note 7 Cf. judgment of 10/05/2001, §266.
Note 8 Cf. aforementioned judgment in Cyprus v. Turkey, §271.
Note 9 Cf. "TRNC Council of Ministers" decision of 27 February 2008, letter a), appended.
Note 10 This law replaces the former Immovable Property (Aliens) Law (Chapter 109).
Note 11 Cf. Memorandum of 06/05/09 from the Turkish authorities, previously quoted, pp. 5-6.
Note 12 Cf. Memorandum of 06/05/09 from the Turkish authorities, previously quoted, p. 7.
Note 13 Cf. judgment of 18 December 1996 in Loizidou v. Turkey, §44.
Note 14 Cf. Memorandum of 06/05/09 from the Turkish authorities, previously quoted, pp. 10-12.
Note 15 Cf. judgment, §37.
Note 16 Cf. Memorandum from the Cypriot authorities, received 08/04/09, p. 1 (available on request from the Secretariat).
Note 17 Cf. Memorandum from the Cypriot authorities, received 08/04/09, previously quoted, pp. 21-28.
Note 18 Legal consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), ICJ Reports 1971, vol. 16).
Note 19 Cf. Memorandum from the Cypriot authorities, received 08/04/09, previously quoted, pp. 6-7 and 52-57.
Note 20 Cf. judgment of the European Court of 16/02/2000 in Amann v. Switzerland, §56.
Note 21 Cf. judgment in Cyprus v. Turkey, previously quoted, §271.
Note 22 Cf. judgment of 12/11/2002 in Zvolsky and Zvolska v. Czech Republic, §67.
Note 23 Cf. European Court's judgment of 06/10/2005 in Maurice v. France.
Note 24 Cf. Memorandum of 06/05/09 from the Turkish authorities, previously quoted, p. 8.
Note 25 For more details, see communication of 12 October 2007 from the Turkish authorities, DD(2007)538, distributed to all Delegations, on 15 October 2007.


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