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Seminar: Embargoed! and "Removing Political Roadblocks to Cyprus Property" presented by Mr. Fahri Zihni

Published Date: Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Embargoed! and "Removing Political Roadblocks to Cyprus Property" presented by Mr. Fahri Zihni

The department of Political Science and International Relations hosted a seminar titled 'Embargoed! and "Removing Political Roadblocks to Cyprus Property"' on October 11, 2017. The speaker, Mr. Fahri Zihni, who is the chair of the 'Embargoed' human rights group stationed in London started the session with a video presentation representing 50 years of isolation in Northern Cyprus. He then introduced the group as an apolitical London based NGO that does not advocate any specific solution in Cyprus but is aimed at removing embargoes (translated to isolation of one of the two major communities in Cyprus).

He then introduced the audience to a number of activities that the 'Embargoed' group has been engaged in regarding the removal of embargoes on the Turkish Cypriot community. This included protests in major European cities as well as constructive engagement in international seminars and conferences among other activities.

Mr. Zihni provided a historical background of the Cyprus problem and focused on the major events in this regard. He proposed that the Annan plan that was put to referendum in Cyprus in 2004 eased the situation to an extent as the Turkish Cypriot community voted in favor of the solution while the Greek Cypriot community voted against it. This led to a plea by the Secretary General of the United Nations not to pressure a community (Turkish Cypriots) that had proven its desire for a solution. It was in this context that the removal of trade limits and easing the entrance of Turkish Cypriots to European markets through the so called green line mechanism was proposed. The accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU however slowed the developments

The problem of property was comprehensively discussed by Mr. Zihni. He proposed that an individual property management mechanism would be inefficient as it would create a great number of law suits (approximately 50000). It would therefore be better to implement a global property exchange in this regard. It was also mentioned that around 14 percent of the property on the Island of Cyprus had belonged to the Evkaf organization in Cyprus since the Ottoman invasion of the Island and the organization still claims ownership of this property. He proposed that the Evkaf has to provide evidence for this claim to European courts. This could eventually help the re-opening of Maras/Varosha as a very important beach town as well as Evkaf claims ownership of around 95 percent of the property in this abandoned town.

The speaker, then, focused on current activities by the 'Embargoed' community. These included dealing with the touchdown problem faced by Pegasus airlines, the production of a documentary about Turkish Cypriot athletes, and the issue of Hellim/Halloumi protected designation of origin.