Greek Cypriots fear Trojan horse in ghost town, KNEWS

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Southern Greek Cypriot officials are once again calling on Varosha title holders to stay away from a ‘legal trap’ in the north, pointing to officially recognized Ottoman religious foundations as interested parties in a commission which examines property claims in the split-island ghost town.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said at the weekend that his administration’s concerns about Varosha, the abandoned town off-limits to civilians for decades, were proven to be well-founded following a recent decision by a property commission in the North.

The internationally recognized IPC recently announced that it would allow Evkaf, a Muslim charity dating back to the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus in 1571, to be an “interested party” in relation to property claims applications filed by Greek Cypriots at Varosha, the once fashionable resort. of British and Hollywood stars.

Muslim scholars suggest that the property given for the benefit of the Muslim community of Cyprus to the Evkaf, established by the sultan shortly after the conquest, was “irrevocable, perpetual and inalienable”, with some even claiming that the Turkish Cypriots never sold the land of Evkaf to the British. who then transferred ownership to the Greek Cypriots.

But Greek Cypriot officials have denied any claims coming from Evkaf.

The Greek Cypriot mayor of Famagusta, Simos Ioannou, also argued over the weekend that claims through Evkaf were being made so that religious foundations could seek compensation from Greek Cypriots who built properties on Turkish Cypriot lands.

“Hence the small so-called pilot phase section, set up to incentivize Greek Cypriots to lodge complaints with the commission after it was determined that it was not on land illegally sought by Evkaf”

“This issue was settled in 1931,” Ioannou said, referring to the Abdullah Pasha Foundation, one of three religious networks recognized by the IPC.

According to reports on the matter, Evkaf land in Varosha does not cover any section of the approximately 3.5% area that Turkish Cypriots are reopening to Greek Cypriots.

But the president, who spoke at the inauguration of a monument in Limassol on Saturday, said “it’s a trap”.

“Hence the small so-called pilot phase section, put in place as an initial measure to induce Greek Cypriots to lodge complaints with the commission after it was determined that he was not on wanted land. illegally by Evkaf,” Anastasiades said.

The president said he and his administration warned early on that there was a catch in the Varosha case.

“We kept saying it was a trap,” Anastasiades said, later adding that “everyone who called on residents to come to the commission today for so-called compensation or restitution deceived”.

Ioannou also called on fellow Greek Cypriots to be very careful with the IPC, calling it a “Trojan horse” through which “Turkey has set a trap to plunder property and rights through legal procedures”.

“It’s a Trojan horse, a trap that started with the 3% of Varosha closed,” Ioannou said.

The mayor also said that the legal inhabitants of Famagusta, referring to the Greek Cypriot families of Varosha who abandoned their town in 1974, “have at their disposal powerful documents from the UN Security Council”, as well as the support of the five permanent members, the European Union. , and all over the world, he added.

“This makes it very difficult for Turkey to proceed, and that is why they are trying to exhaust all legal avenues,” Ioannou explained, adding that “this issue will only be resolved through political and not legal means.”

Known as Maras in Turkish, Varosha had been closed to civilians after Greek Cypriots fled in August 1974, a month after Turkish troops landed on the island in response to a short-lived military coup. Greek inspiration a few days earlier.

The abandoned ghost town was intended to return to Greek Cypriot administration as part of a brokered peace deal between the two sides of the ethnically divided island, but UN efforts to help broker a deal have failed one after another.

Anastasiades said on Saturday that he intended to raise before the European Council the need for European initiatives on a settlement in Cyprus as well as the adoption of “substantial confidence-building measures”, with Greek Cypriot media sources suggesting that Varosha was proposed for handover to the UN administration.

But Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar pulled Varosha off the table, saying he did not believe Greek Cypriots were sincere in seeking a federal solution.

“It’s their choice for the Greeks to settle here again and integrate them into the economy. They can come or sell if they want,” Tatar said last year.

Dozens of Greek Cypriot property owners, who applied to the IPC for the return of their properties in Varosha, were approved last year after Turkish Cypriots transformed the 5 square kilometer ghost town of a military zone prohibited in civil administration.

Nicosia has expressed fears that private initiatives by Greek Cypriots could tip the scales on the broader political aspect of the Cyprus problem, with the southern government also claiming that recent Varosha resettlement attempts violate UN resolutions.

Tatar denied the accusation, saying the process by the IPC is taking place “in accordance with property rights and the law”.

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