Greek Cypriot owners of property built in the closed-off town of Varosha in Famagusta will be given the right to rent their own land.
Turkish Islamic religious foundation head Ibrahim Benter reiterated that most of Varosha belongs to Evkaf land belonging to religious endowments. Speaking to Turkish daily Yeni Safak, Benter said that land registry records of Varosha discovered by accident in 1990 show that the land belongs to Islamic religious groups. He said that Greek Cypriots had attempted to smuggle out the records when these were intercepted and were later submitted in court and ruled to be vakif (religious) properties.
Benter said the title deeds did not belong to Greek Cypriots who lived and supposedly owned the land but to the Abdullah Pasha Foundation, the Lala Mustafa Pasha Foundation and the Bilal Aga Foundation.
A team of Ottoman-reading experts arrived in Cyprus in 2009 to study the deeds dated between 1671 and 1974, and went through 2,443 registry logs, 13,000 files and eight million documents before storing the information electronically along with 424,000 additional documents and thousands of photographs that helped to wipe out the Greek Cypriot ownership of Varosha and show that it did not belong to the people who lived on it but was vakif land.
Claims that the area had been purchased by the British were baseless, according to Benter. He adds that the Greek Cypriot community has a false perception of the administration agreement and that their properties had even belonged to them or had been stolen.
“We know which land is ours but there are issues, such as the research for buildings sitting on this land and their condition,” he said.
He said that now that this has been settled, Varosha could be restored back to its glory days and Greek Cypriots would be able to rent the properties from persons who have invested in Evkaf land.
“In case a Greek Cypriot comes and says ‘I had a hotel there and I accept this is vakif land, I am ready to sign a lease contract, then we will tell them OK, sign the contract and we will give you the building you invested in for a rent,” Benter told Yeni Safak.
Mr Benter’s groups were backed up by Dr Atan Atun, consultant of former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who told the newspaper that Greek Cypriots working in the civil service during the British Colonial property started forging land deeds and claiming properties of the vakifs. Dr Atun stated that the British violated Evkaf regulations in 1915, and sold properties.
An inventory is currently taking place to reclaim properties occupied by Greek Cypriots from the Turks in the Turkish-invaded part of Cyprus.