The “Tonight” programme entitled “Mediterranean Nightmare” (ITV1 5th June 2009 20:00-20:30) was a shoddy piece of journalism.
The programme gave the impression, with footage of bulldozers at work, that the Orams case is about houses being demolished. It is not.
No order of a Greek Cypriot court for the demolition of a house in the North can be enforced.All that can happen if the Orams lose their case is that any property they may have in an EU country could be sold to pay compensation to the Greek Cypriot former owner.
There was no explanation as to why “Rita” could lose her house in the North and therefore “lose everything.” Her house in the North will not be seized or demolished, and we were not told whether she has any assets in an EU country which could be seized. It is interesting that she said that with the benefit of hindsight she would still have gone to live in Northern Cyprus.
There was no explanation of why Turkish troops landed in the North. Michael Nicholson was there at the time, so he should know. He should have said that they landed in response to an attempt by Greek Cypriots to take over the whole island by force and annex it to Greece. The coup was only a failed coup because Turkey intervened to stop it. He might also have said that it was the culmination of eleven years of persecution of Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots.
He should have told viewers that a Turkish Cypriot in the same position as Mr. Apostolides could not recover his property in the South or get compensation by seizing property in Britain, because of the one-sided way in which EU law works in Cyprus.
Mr. Nicholson should have said that the TRNC Government has already set up a Claims Commission to which Greek Cypriots are applying for return of their property and/or compensation. The TRNC government is therefore willing to pay the compensation and there is no need for Greek Cypriots to victimise British buyers. He should have questioned their motives. The Claims Commission was functioning when Apostolides appealed. The woman looking for her land between two rivers should have been asked whether she had applied to the Commission, and if not why not.
There was a vague reference to “falling foul of the planning laws,” and “rules and regulations which should have protected buyers being overlooked” This has nothing to do with the Orams case, as there is no suggestion that their house has been built in breach of any planning laws or any other regulations. There was no explanation as to why any other house in Northern Cyprus had been built in breach of planning laws, nor as to what “rules and regulations” had been overlooked. In any event Northern Cyprus is not the only country in the world (including the UK) where planning laws have been breached.
There was no criticism of the ECJ for treating property cases in Northern Cyprus as if they were normal cases of private property, when it is quite clear that property rights on both sides have been overridden by political acts including war. It is those political acts which are being addressed by the two leaders in their talks, and there is no room for interference by the courts.