The European Union’s top court has ruled that legal verdicts by Greek Cypriot courts are binding throughout the bloc. This supports Cypriot Meletis Apostolides’ attempt to reclaim land he was forced to abandon after the Turkish military intervention that divided the Mediterranean island in 1974.
The European Court of Justice ruling comes after Apostolides won his case in a southern Cyprus court. But a British court later threw this into question. A British couple had bought the land, and Apostolides challenged this, seeking to demolish a villa the couple had built there. The British court said EU laws and verdicts by Greek Cypriot courts were not enforceable in the not internationally recognized Turkish Cypriot north. Cyprus was split when Turkey invaded, in response to a Greek-inspired coup. An estimated 5,000 Britons live in northern Cyprus today, many in disputed properties. The European court’s ruling could encourage other Greek Cypriots to take legal action against foreigners where property rights are in question. This is one of the most sensitive aspects of reunification negotiations.