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New Greek Cypriot law awakens tension

Source: Cyprus Observer  
25 November 2006

According to the law, Turkish Cypriots and foreigners involved with the sale and purchase of Greek Cypriot properties in the North without permission of the owner may be imprisoned for up to 7 years.

News that the Greek Cypriot Government has recently passed a law to investigate and arrest Turkish Cypriots living on Greek Cypriot properties in the North has awakened a sharp reaction in the North. However, officials from the South pointed out that the new law is mainly to investigate Turkish Cypriots that are involved with purchase or sale of Greek Cypriot properties in the North. Sources pointed out that European Union officials are also interested in the issue, asking for the content of the law from the Greek Cypriot Government.

“Practical end of crossings”

In the North, Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat said that implementation of the new law actually means the practical end of crossings to the South. Speaking to Turkish Cypriot BRT Television, Talat said, “Papadopoulos is playing an extremely dangerous game by aiming at increasing the tension between the two communities. If they continue like this a settlement is going to be impossible.”

Move against property sale boom

Comments that appeared in Turkish Cypriot newspapers said the new law aims at preventing property sales and the further construction boom in the North. Law experts predict that the new law is another attempt by the Greek Cypriot side to prevent such a boom, after the Orams case, which actually had the same aim, was lost.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Greek Cypriot Minister of Justice and Public Order, Sophocles Sophocleous, made the first comment in the South pointing out that only the Turkish Cypriots who are involved with the sale and purchase of Greek Cypriot properties without the official permission of the owner could be imprisoned for up to 7 years.

Christofias’ statement

In a statement that appeared on the Turkish Cypriot television channel Kibris TV on Wednesday, the Greek Cypriot House President Demetris Christofias said that the new Greek Cypriot law does not concern Turkish Cypriots who live on Greek Cypriot properties, but the ones who buy and sell them. “Our problem is with the ones selling them. There is high circulation of Greek Cypriot properties in the North. These properties are sold to foreigners at low prices. Who are they to sell these properties,” said Christofias.

He once again pointed out that the Greek Cypriot government does not issue any title deeds to citizens living on Turkish Cypriot properties in the South, criticising the Turkish Cypriot Government for letting Greek Cypriot properties in the North to be sold to foreigners. He stressed that those Turkish Cypriot citizens, who are not involved with the sale of properties, may pass to the South without any problems. He also said that the moves taken by the Greek Cypriot side are always perceived in misleading ways in the North.

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