Orams Decision 'Bomb in Negotiating Room' - Wikileaks
Former Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was demoralised by the European Court of Justice's decision on the Orams property case, saying that the EU "had thrown a bomb in the negotiating room", according to a 2009 Nicosia US Embassy confidential cable released by Wikileaks.ch.
US Ambassador to Cyprus Frank Urbancic met with Talat to guage his mood after the decision, and told him that "he would urge the Greek Cypriots to redouble their efforts to find a political, not legal, solution to the property question," according to the cable's text.
"A downbeat Talat allowed that the long-feared April 28 ECJ ruling was "very damaging." Its provision effectively allowing thousands of Greek Cypriot property owners to seize the non-Cyprus-based assets of EU citizens who own property in the north with "TRNC" title deeds had strengthened the G/C negotiating position on property, which calls for the original owners to use the property as they see fit," goes the text of the cable.
The ruling "would undermine the fundamental Turkish Cypriot (T/C) demand for a mixed property regime (return, exchange, and compensation) crucial to prevent the numerically smaller Turkish Cypriot community from being swamped by a flood of Greek Cypriot returnees," said Talat. He also expressed anger at the British government "over the process that had led to the Orams verdict -- despite high-ranking UK officials, including the High Commissioner in Nicosia, having announced that the Cyprus problem could only be solved through the present negotiating process."
"Talat said that Christofias and his team were already gloating that the rights of the original property owner had been vindicated. Hereafter, the G/Cs would simply table proposals in line with the Orams ruling," says the cable.
Talat repeatedly acknowledged that negotiations were the only manner of reuniting Cyprus but feared that "right-wing parties such as UBP wanted to suspend or end the present process entirely."
Urbancic "acknowledged the setback the Turkish Cypriots had suffered but underscored the U.S. belief that the negotiating process must continue," goes the cable's text.
In January 2010, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that Linda and David Orams will have to demolish their property in Turkish-held Lapithos village five years after Greek-Cypriot Meletios Apostolides sued them for building a villa on his usurped land.
The couple spent around 160,000 sterling on the villa and were ordered to immediately demolish the building, pool and fencing as well as giving back the property to the original owner and paying his legal costs and damages.
The landmark ruling set a precedent that could affect thousands of other holiday home owners in northern Cyprus, and upholds a ruling by the European Court of Justice supporting the original Nicosia District Court decision in 2005. At the time, the Orams refused to comply with the Nicosia court's decision, saying it was not enforceable in north Cyprus.
Meletios Apostolides then sued the Orams for their property in the UK in 2006 but lost the case when their lawyer Cherie Blair defended them on the grounds that they were not responsible for the political situation in Cyprus. She argued that the EU acquis communitaire - in which the decisions of European country courts must be recognised by all other EU27 countries - was suspended in the Turkish-occupied areas.
Apostolides then pursued the case in the European Court of Justice, which upheld Nicosia's ruling that the Orams should demolish the villa they had built on his property. In response, the Orams appealed the case in the UK, claiming that the ECJ president Vassilios Skouris was Greek and therefore biased, but lost their appeal.