Turkish Cypriots petition ECHR over property in Greek Cyprus
More than two dozen Turkish Cypriots have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (HER) for the return of immovable properties they were forced to abandon in 1963 during conflict with Greek Cypriots. Twenty-one Turkish Cypriots originally from Matyat in the divided Cypriot capital of Lefkosa/Nicosia said they appealed to the court because the Greek Cypriot Interior Ministry didn't respond to their application for the return of the immovable properties as well as payments of damages. The group also said the Greek Cypriot Chief Prosecutor's Office refused to accept the application because it was written in Turkish. The applicants said they demanded the return of Matyat, the majority of which belonged to Turkish Cypriots, along with payments for damages incurred over the past 47 years. Members of the group were forced to abandon their homes and properties during deadly clashes on the island in the 1960s. After gaining independence from Britain in 1960, Cyprus became a bi-communal republic where Greek and Turkish Cypriot constituent communities shared power guaranteed by Britain, Turkey and Greece. Although the Republic of Cyprus as described in the 1959 agreements no longer exists, Greek Cypriots continue to enjoy the title and international recognition while the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) still suffers under a political and economic blockade. Cyprus joined the EU as a divided island when the Greek Cypriots in the south rejected a UN reunification plan in a referendum in 2004 even though the TRNC's Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly approved it. Over six years later, the promise made by EU foreign ministers before the referendum to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and establish direct trade with the TRNC remains unfulfilled.