Thursday, June 4, 2009

The old bones of new development

I found Northern Cyprus to be abundantly sprinkled with the half finished shells of new apartments and houses - yet not a worker to be seen. The proliferation of development has not been stalled by recession, indeed Cyprus was the only country within the EU to emerge relatively unscathed by the troubles affecting the rest of the world, finishing the financial year reportedly 1% in the green.  A victory instead, has been won at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) representing Meletis Apostolides, a Cypriot Greek whose Northern Cypriot property was built on by British couple David and Linda Orams after purchasing it from a Turkish vendor. 

Overseas buyers have been rather unethically (understatement alert) snapping up cheap land and properties in the North belonging to forcibly relocated Cypriot Greek refugees.  Refugees' rights over their occupied land holdings has been the topic of conversation for the past month here in Cyprus since the ECJ ruled in Apostolides' favour in April.  This ruling means that overseas buyers from the EU can be forced to demolish their (illegal) properties and pay compensation to the rightful owners of the land.  If they fail to do so, they could potentially have their assets removed from them in their home country.  

"In effect, the ruling means that although the Cypriot government cannot directly enforce its laws in the north, it can call on any EU country to enact rulings that come out of a Cypriot court. In the Orams case it means, assuming the UK court takes the ECJ ruling on board, that the couple’s Sussex home and other assets could be seized and sold in order to pay off Apostolides. (Simon Bahceli - Cyprus Mail 29/04/2009)"

The ongoing ramifications from this historical legal win may indeed affect the lives of others in the EU facing similarly complex situations.  It most certainly will influence the economy in the North as potential buyers and owners face up to the consequences of turning a blind eye to buying effectively "stolen" property.  

 Read more here and here.  And here

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