If you’re planning to sell property in Cyprus, you would no doubt be surprised at the news of Greece and Turkey getting together for talks on the reunification of Cyprus. This is something that has been going on since the 1970s, but it’s only now that the talks have become serious.
This has been a touchy subject since 1974, when the island was divided between a Turkish Cypriot Republic in the north and a Greek Cypriot nation in the south. There is a UN buffer between the two parts of the island so that there is no acrimony between the two historic rivals, Greece and Turkey.
Both Greece and Turkey have argued that various times that the other should withdraw their forces from the island, to give way for the reunification. But unfortunately, neither of the two nations has been willing to do that unilaterally, which is why we have had a stalemate here for the last 40 years.
New talks between Greece and Turkey were held in Geneva in January 2017, and it was hoped that something positive would come out of it. But not much has really happened, as both sides basically agreed to keep talking while agreeing to disagree on the critical issues of concern.
The main issue of contention, for property owners of Cyprus, relates to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Over 165,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to flee this part of the island in 1974, leaving their property behind. Similarly, 45,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to leave the south of the island and left behind all of their property.
Now, as a property owner in this part of the island, you would no doubt be concerned if your home was owned in the past by any of those who were forced to leave the place.
What would the consequences be if the families of these refugees were to come back, staking a claim over the property? Who would compensate them and what would the compensation comprise of?
As you can see, we are stepping onto a legal minefield. While it is clear that the families of those who left their properties behind deserve compensation, it should come from the governments of Greece and Turkey.
The present owners of the properties should have nothing whatsoever to do with it. It’s likely that the properties have changed hands several times in the four decades since the island was split. So it’s not the property owners’ fault for now occupying such disputed properties.
One hopes for the success of the reconciliation talks. A reunified Cyprus would be very good for the property market here. It would send the property prices soaring. Reunification is really a matter of when, not if, and one hopes that happens eventually.
Keeping this in mind, it’s as good a time as any to buy property in Cyprus. Any investment made now, could well be a multi-bagger in a few years time.