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8 March 2010

An olive branch for North Cyprus

You can’t go very far in North Cyprus without seeing its wonderful olive trees. In fact, they are one of the most familiar sights in the Mediterranean. Sadly, due to construction and improvements in infrastructure in recent years, many of them have disappeared, so I was delighted with comments from the Agriculture and Natural Resoucres Minister that next year he’s planning to start a project to plant 100,000 local olive trees.

Many olive trees are centuries old and famous enough to have been talked about in Homer’s Odyssey, the Bible, and the Koran. The symbol of the olive leaves and branches have traditionally been associated with peace, wisdom, purification, fertility, glory, and abundance. Historically, olive oil was considered to be sacred, being used to light the flame at the Olympic Games and for anointing royal families and famous athletes. Olives and their oil have long been known for their many health benefits and the famous, healthy Mediterranean diet includes regular amounts of both. Olive leaf extracts are used in teas and natural herbal medicine for many ailments because of the powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and energy-giving properties.

Olive trees are cultivated for its oil and leaves, olive fruit, fine wood, and also fire wood. The waste products from olive plants are now being considered for use as a renewable energy source because the wood produces 2.5 times the energy than burning the same amount of wood. Nowadays we’re striving to have a cleaner environment and olive waste is ideal for this because the smoke released apparently has no negative impact on our surroundings. And because we tend to use all parts of the tree, we need to replant what we take from the environment to ensure the survival of this ancient and valuable species.

I’ve tasted olives from many countries, but I have to say that the olives from North Cyprus are the best. And if you haven’t yet tried çakızdez – cracked green olives with garlic, lemon, and salt – you really should. They make an ideal meze or just something to nibble on while you enjoy a glass of wine on the patio watching the stunning Cyprus sunsets. Ohh and there is also olive leaf burning tradition of Turkish Cypriots!

3 March 2010

Is change in the wind for North Cyprus?

The approaching year could spell times of change for North Cyprus. Change is a funny thing; we spend a long time waiting for it and yet it all seems to come at once.

In April we have the TRNC presidential elections. So far only Prime Minister Eroglu has confirmed his candidacy for the post, although the current President, Mehmet Ali Talat, has recently begun a round of visits to opposition parties. Is he drumming up support to announce that he will stand again? Whilst polls apparently show Eroglu tipped to win the election, the pro-peace party have said that they won’t support either Dervis Eroglu or Mehmet Ali Talat. And hey, this is politics so anything can happen!

In the South there are also changes afoot. The Greek Cypriot coalition government seems to be breaking up due to their disagreement about the concessions being given to Turkish Cypriots during the peace talks. And speaking of the talks, it seems that citizens on both sides of the border are becoming more reluctant to vote in a referendum for reunification.

And then we have Europe. The European Parliament is doing its best to undermine a Cyprus solution. Turkey is adamant that it won’t sacrifice North Cyprus in its bid to join the EU. And anyway, the Eurozone is in chaos with many member states having problems. It’s even possible that Greece could be kicked out of the club for cooking the books. The way things are going, will there even be an EU in the next few years?

So where does that leave North Cyprus? Well, we’re now hearing more references to a Plan B in the peace talks and many people believe this would involve pushing for international recognition of North Cyprus or forging closer ties with the Islamic world.

I think the keyword this year is change. And if you’re superstitious, you might be interested to know that according to Chinese astrology, 2010 is the year of the Metal Tiger. A combination that hasn’t been seen since 1950 and spells bold change with a big bang.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

1 March 2010

North Cyprus – Weather you like it or not

Where ever you are in the world, everyone loves talking about the weather. You just can’t get away from it. We complain that it’s too hot, too cold, too wet – the list could go on and on. And while the UK has been in the grip of the coldest winter in thirty years with excessive amounts of snow, it seems that here in North Cyprus it’s been the wettest winter for thirty years. Visually the reservoirs look like they’re at the same water level they were about three and a half years ago, which is fantastic news for the water shortage problem. And if you speak to older Turkish Cypriots they say that this is what it used to be like here years ago.

Although people keep telling me that it’s been the coldest winter in North Cyprus, I have to disagree. Because the weather is ever changing, maybe we just have short memories. So far, we’ve only had about two weeks of what I would call really cold weather, and suddenly it feels like it’s actually going to be the hottest winter with temperatures recently in the twenties!

Does this mean that North Cyprus is in for an early summer? I certainly hope so. And the warmer weather looks set to continue for a while as well, so enjoy it while you can.

28 February 2010

Orams Case North Cyprus

Below is the summary of Orams Case prepared by the Naomi Mehmet & Partners law firm.
For more information, please visit their website:

The case of Linda and David Orams involves a piece of land in Lapta, T.R.N.C. which Mr. and Mrs. Orams purchased and had registered in their names in accordance with the laws of the T.R.N.C. and subsequently built on.

In 2004, Meletios Apostolides, the Greek Cypriot who owned the land prior to the Turkish military intervention in 1974, obtained an order from the Nicosia District Court in South Cyprus, which is an EU member, ordering Mr. and Mrs. Orams to demolish and vacate the house and pay compensation for the use of the land. The order was obtained against Mr. and Mrs. Orams in default of appearance, although their subsequent application for the decision to be set-aside was rejected. The lawyer for Mr Meletios Apostolides, then, by relying on EU law, applied to the courts in the UK for the judgment to be enforced against Mr and Mrs Orams and their assets there.

Under EU law, any court judgment given in any EU member state must be recognised in all other EU member states, except where ‘this would be manifestly contrary to public policy in that member state’ or ‘where the judgment was given in default of appearance’ or ‘where it is irreconcilable with a previous judgment involving the same cause of action and same parties.’

In 2005, Meletios Apostolides registered the judgments of the Nicosia court at the High Court in the UK. Mr. and Mrs. Orams subsequently appealed against this and judgment was given in their favour in September 2006. Judge Mr. Justice Jack stated that the judgments could not be enforceable because EU Law is suspended in the North and the administration in the South does not exercise effective control over the North. He also felt that such cases are the result of an ‘international problem ill-suited to be resolved by private litigation’.

Mr. Apostolides then appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal referred the matter to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling. On 28th April 2009, the ECJ ruled that the fact that EU law is suspended in the T.R.N.C. and the fact that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control do not preclude the enforcement of the judgment in a member state. The ECJ also rejected arguments on public policy and arguments that the judgment was a default judgment on the basis that Mr. and Mrs. Orams had applied for a ‘Set-Aside’ Order which had been rejected.

The matter then reverted back to the Court of Appeal. Judgment was given on 19th January 2010 in which the Court of Appeal applied the ruling of the ECJ and rejected Mr. and Mrs. Orams’ claims that the enforcement of the judgment was contrary to public policy and claims that the President of the ECJ at the time when the ruling of the ECJ was given, Judge Skouris, was biased. Unfortunately, any further appeal by Mr. and Mrs. Orams to the House of Lords is prevented under the relevant legislation and leave to appeal on the grounds that the matter represents an important principle of law has been rejected.

In order to try to comply with the judgment, Mr. and Mrs. Orams have submitted an application to the District Office (Kaymakamlik) for permission to demolish the property. However, this application has been rejected. The legal team for Mr. and Mrs. Orams in the UK intends, therefore, to submit an application for the enforceability of the ‘demolition’ part of the court order to be declared impossible. It is understood that the TRNC Government has also stated that they will pay all of the mesne profits which Mr. and Mrs. Orams have been ordered to pay to Mr Apostolides together with his legal costs and Mr. and Mrs. Orams’ own legal costs and to refund the money which they paid to purchase the property and build on it.

Mr. and Mrs. Orams have filed a case in the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) to argue that they did not receive a fair trial in the South and that this constitutes a breach of their right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and to argue that the judgment contradicts recent case law of the E.C.H.R. in which the T.R.N.C. Property Compensation Commission, a Commission established by the T.R.N.C. authorities to consider and resolve applications by Greek Cypriots for settlement for their property left behind in 1974, was recognised and endorsed by the E.C.H.R. as a local remedy for such claims.

A meeting was held in January 2010 for the members of the T.R.N.C. Bar Association to discuss the ‘Orams’ case. It was decided that meetings would be sought with the Government to try to discuss legislative measures which can be taken to provide protection to purchasers in the T.R.N.C.

It has been argued by some political commentators that the result in this case will undermine efforts to re-unite the island through the current negotiation process for a comprehensive settlement. Some commentators on the Greek Cypriot side are also concerned that Turkish Cypriots might launch similar individual legal cases in relation to their properties left behind in the South, leaving the Greek Cypriot administration with a heavy financial burden.

27 February 2010

Live Aid comes to North Cyprus

We’ve all heard about the terrible earthquake disasters in Haiti recently, but North Cyprus has also had its own disaster closer to home.

After severe flooding in Guzelyurt and Bostanci in January, many houses, shops, and property were damaged. A crisis centre was quickly set up and thousands of Turkish Lira has been spent on the clean up operation. And whilst the cleaning work in the areas has now finished, there is still much to do catering for the victim’s daily needs such as food and accommodation.

North Cyprus has now organized its own version of Live Aid to raise money for both the victims of the devastating local floods and the Haiti earthquakes, with many talented entertainers coming together to put on a fantastic show for us.

On Sunday 28th February, Grand Aid is being held at the Pia Bella Hotel, Girne, from 4pm – 11pm. No entrance fee is being charged, but donations will be asked for on entry.

So far the line up includes British and Turkish singers and dancers, such as: Peter Murray, Dawn, Wade David, Kibris Line Dancers, Elvis, Jonny Lee, Andy P, Starfever, Anna and Emma, Kelvin, Ron Brown as Frank Sinatra, Gypsy Brothers, Breakaway Blues Band, and The Tunes, as well as raffles.

So please show your support and generosity by turning up. Let’s get the party started!


Discussion on our forums:

19 February 2010

Think North Cyprus, think salsa?

OK, so salsa probably wouldn’t be the first kind of dance that you’d associate with North Cyprus. Salsa dance is vibrant and mesmerizing and in recent years it’s exploded all over the world. Now the good news for all you dance lovers is that the much-loved Latin scene is taking off here too.

Mehmet Aslan, also known as DJ Salsero, will be spinning the best sizzling beats at Nostalgia music bar, Lefkosa, on Saturday 20th February, and it promises to be a fun-packed night. Also joining the line up will be Mehmet Ceyhan, organizer of the annual Turkey Latin Music & Dance Festival and co-founder of Mundo Latino Dance & Promotions in Istanbul. Mehmet Ceyhan’s troupe danced at the 6th International UK Salsa Congress in 2009, wowing the crowd with an Anatolian-Latin fusion, I dream of Turkey. There will be a special show, exclusive to Cyprus, around midnight.

DJ Salsero, who co-founded the hugely popular annual Salsa Jam in Cyprus, returned to here in 2001 after a career as a Latin DJ and began working in Nostalgia Music Bar. His passion for Salsa has earned him the DJ of the Year Award at the 2nd Cyprus Salsa Congress.

If you’re looking for something a bit different this weekend and want a lively, entertaining evening with an international flavour, head on down to this North Cyprus salsa-fest. And don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes because you can even take part in a class from 9pm – 10pm.

Entrance: 20 YTL or 10 Euro inc. first drink + Class + Party

Contact: 0533 868 3611

22 August 2009

If you can’t stand the Cyprus heat…

After living here for a few years now, I reckon I've discovered how you can spot a dug-in TRNC expat from a newbie from 60 paces.

1. We're the ones who were dancing around like idiots during the only rainstorm in August that anyone can remember (unless you weren't in Alsancak of course). We know that rain means less cash for the tankerman.

2. We're the ones carefully counting the lira and NOT saying how brilliant the exchange rate is compared to the Euro.

3. We're the ones whose sandals are dusty, whose cars are dusty, whose patio/roof terrace is dusty, and who know that cleaning them when the wind blows is a complete waste of time.

4.. We're the ones NOT moving about at midday wearing nothing but shorts, inadequate sunscreen and red raw skin. We know better than to fry.

5. We're the ones who are still here after October half term, and who wake up every morning to the promise of sunshine and the lure of the ocean. And not a Tube or train or bendy bus in sight. Bliss!

For those of you suffering the winds and rains of a dying tropical storm in the UK, here's one website guaranteed to make you green with jealousy - Nigel Heasman's weather page.

Nigel's incredibly detailed site has got every temperature reading you could ever need, and more, but the most interesting reading is the total rainfall this year to date - 34.7 cms. That's just over the length of the average school ruler. I used to get that much in a flash flood on my patio in Blighty.

Ah well, time to call that tankerman again...



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