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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Hypocritical to stop refugees from selling their properties ]

Hypocritical to stop refugees from selling their properties

HOW IRONIC, that the biggest champions of human rights are advocating the violation of a Greek Cypriot’s right to property by the state. These are the very same politicians for whom a settlement that did not respect every citizen’s human rights was by definition unacceptable. Yet they have no qualms about suspending people’s property rights for an indefinite period for some vague reasons relating to the national issue.

This was evident by the angry reaction to the Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis’ announcement that the government could not stop people from selling their properties in the north, as long as the transactions went through the Land Registry office and all taxes were paid. According to the Land Registry’s records, there were 256 such transactions in 2007, but these fell to 150 last year after the Interior Ministry had imposed a temporary freeze to take advice from the Attorney-general.

A variety of reasons were given by political parties for demanding the outlawing of property sales. For instance, most political parties made the point that refugees could be forced to sell their properties in the north at cut-rate prices because they needed the cash. Strictly speaking this is not true, as prices are determined by the law of demand and supply. Demand for a property in the north is not very high because the buyer is taking a big risk, not knowing if he would ever be able to use this asset. A refugee would be more than happy to sell a property in the north at a low price, because he might never be able to use it in the future.

In short, refugees are not being exploited by selling. On the contrary, they are exploiting speculators who want to take a big risk. Could any of the parties (DIKO, EDEK, EUROKO), wanting to stop the transactions, be able to guarantee that the properties in the north would be returned to refugees in the foreseeable future? This might happen in the event of a settlement, but what guarantee is there of a settlement? Funnily enough, if it were up to the three above-mentioned parties there would never be settlement and refugees would get nothing for their properties.

Another absurd argument used is that land in the north would be sold to foreigners! It is perfectly acceptable to sell land in Paphos and Larnaca to foreigners, but in the occupied north, we have a national duty not to sell to anyone – not even other Greek Cypriots. This perfectly illustrates the absurdity of the ultra-patriotic parties who, despite posing as champions of the rule of law and defenders of refugee rights, want to deprive refugees of their property rights by law.

The Interior Minister has made it clear he will not allow this to happen. Such a law would be unconstitutional but, more importantly, it would be penalising refugees – the few who would be able to make some money out of selling their Turkish-held properties.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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