Europe court rules for Greek Cypriot in Northern Cyprus land ownership dispute

[JURIST] The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled [press release, PDF; case materials] Tuesday that a judgment by a southern Cyprus court favoring a Greek Cypriot reclaiming land in the north is enforceable despite the south's lack of control over that region. Meletis Apostolides, a Cypriot national whose family was forced from land in the north during the partition of the island, brought suit against a British couple who had purchased the land from a third party to build a vacation home. The ECJ determined Apostolides to be the rightful owner of the land, which will likely lead to additional legal claims by similarly situated Greek Cypriots. In turn, this could increase opposition to reunification [BBC report] by Turkish Cypriots.

Tensions between ethnic Turks and Greeks in Cyprus [JURIST news archive] have long been high. Cyprus split into two areas, the Greek controlled south and the Turkish controlled north [TRNC website], when Turkey invaded the island in 1974 to quell a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. Attempts to reunite the island have thus far been unsuccessful. In 2004, Turkish and Greek negotiators failed to agree [JURIST report] on a plan to reunify Cyprus ahead of its entry into the EU. Despite the failure, Cyprus was one of 10 new members that joined the EU in May 2004 [EU enlargement website]. Currently, northern Cyprus is self-governed, the region is occupied by the Turkish army, and it is not recognized internationally.

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