Some selectively insist that the only victims of this dismal situation are the Greek Cypriots. This is our community’s grave mistake. As echoed by some Turkish Cypriots, who also speak similar nonsense, recalling the dead-end exhortations of Denktash
After the rejection of the Annan plan in 2004, we all had the opportunity, with the checkpoints having been opened, to witness the start and then the spread in record time of an organised building boom in the occupied areas. In 2003, when Denktash opened the first crossings, all the G/Cs who had lived in the northern part of our country prior to 1974, realised that almost nothing had been done. No substantial development had taken place on Greek Cypriot properties.
It all appeared to take off after 2004. The [Annan] plan was not passed by the Greek Cypriots, but it did show our side’s hand in relation to the settlement of the property issue. On the basis of ECHR judgments, the rights of owners, but also of users in the occupied areas were put on the table, and this was something that could be seen in the provisions of the plan. The solutions provided were not black and white. Legally, the vast expanse of grey that comprised the Return – Exchange – Compensation triptych, with many variations in between, combined with the arrival of thousands of settlers, whetted the appetite of major contractors. During this period, from 2004 onwards, the focus of this building boom was mainly the Kyrenia area. It extended westwards towards Karavas-Lapithos, southwards towards Bellapais and eastwards towards Agios Epiktitos [Çatalköy] and Agios Amvrosios. Relatively smaller development also took place in Famagusta around Agios Sergios.
After Crans Montana and the second Cyprus problem deadlock, in other words, by the time all issues concerning property were clarified and when, to a very large extent, due to the fruitless passage of time, the rights of the T/C users as well as those of the settlers began to be strengthened, always on the basis of ECHR decisions, huge Turkish and Jewish construction companies entered the fray. The Turkish ones are now preparing to enter Varosha to invest in the Mediterranean’s most beautiful beach, while the Jewish ones, as we have read in Politis in recent days, have built a whole town with 8,500 villas and apartments along the Trikomo shoreline and huge settlements in Akanthou and Karpasia.
Construction companies, such as the Afik Group, are now selling villas built on Greek Cypriot land to Iranians, Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Kazakhs and Uzbeks. Cyprus has entered a multinational one-way street, with the future of Greek and Turkish Cypriots being traded off in return. Yes, the issue now also concerns Turkish Cypriots. They have been crushed, both demographically by the uncontrolled influx of settlers and economically through the fluctuations of the Turkish lira.
The second Attila began with the blessing of the Republic of Cyprus during the days of the Anastasiades government. In the south of Cyprus, by means of the 2013 haircut, Cyprus’ middle class was wiped out. Subsequently, by means of the Cyprus Investment Programme, thousands of passports were given to international businessmen and to a number of crooks in exchange for villas and apartments in towers which in fact sent property prices and rental prices soaring without generating recurring income. This was a second major blow, which this time hit young couples, i.e. the future of this country. They were forced to flee abroad or migrate to their parents’ villages in order to survive, as happened in the 6th-7th centuries AD, when the invasions of the Arabs, Mamluks, Saracens and Crusaders began. Nowadays, with Cyprus being an EU member state that defines itself as a country governed by the rule of law, history is literally repeating itself as farce. The Saracens are not coming in pirate ships, but in jets that are made available to our country’s lowlife leaders to travel to exotic destinations. Today, King Janus is not getting dragged and debased along the streets of Cairo, but instead enjoys lavish vacations in the Seychelles.
In the occupied areas, apart from the Turkish contractors, some of whom are partners of government officials in Ankara, we also have contractors who have residency permits in the free areas and are building on Greek Cypriot land in the occupied areas.
The case of the Jewish businessman Yaacov Afik is literally outrageous. This man is a Jew with a Portuguese passport. For the last 10 years, he has been living in Cyprus with a residence permit from the Republic of Cyprus. In July 2017, Yaacov Afik was naturalised in the occupied areas and obtained a passport as a Turkish Cypriot citizen. Through his company Afik Group, Afik is building thousands of apartments in the occupied areas on G/C land in Trikomo and is simultaneously working with G/C businessmen to make investments in the free areas, such as the Troy complex in Pyla. The Republic of Cyprus did not take notice of who Yaacov Afik is, and certainly the Phoebus and Christos Clerides Law Firm that registered companies for him in the free areas did not investigate his identity with due diligence.
All these are by-products of the invasion and occupation, one might say. The truth, as always, is more complex. The development of the occupied areas is also the result of the lack of a solution, which has now become a gangrene. Some thought and still think that the invocation of the anti-occupation struggle, the invocation even of patriotism as a political and party advantage, can last indefinitely. Today, these narratives are crumbling like a house of cards.
Some selectively insist that the only victims of this dismal situation are the Greek Cypriots. This is our community’s grave mistake. As echoed by some Turkish Cypriots, who also speak similar nonsense, recalling the dead-end exhortations of Denktash. It is not only the Greek Cypriots who are being ousted from Cyprus today, but also the Turkish Cypriots. The choice of not resolving the Cyprus problem, framed by slogans about the separate survival of Hellenism and Turkism in Cyprus at any cost, has in fact allowed the corrupt and the arrivistes to get the upper hand, with Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Tatar as their representatives.
Let it not be assumed that the prudent people of this country do not want investment or foreigners. Investment is necessary and welcome as long as it is done in a coordinated manner and in a way that serves the Cypriot people. The investments that are currently being made in Cyprus on both sides of the checkpoints are not aimed at serving the country and the Cypriot people as a whole. The haphazard investments being made in Cyprus today constitute a second Attila that is leading all Cypriots to economic destitution.