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article imageEU court orders Turkey to pay millions for 1974 Cyprus invasion

By Nathan Salant     May 15, 2014 in World
Strasbourg - Turkey was ordered Monday to pay $123 million to Cyprus for its 1974 invasion, occupation and continuing failure to leave the island nation.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey violated the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights by taking over a third of the Mediterranean island and by not accounting for nearly 1,500 missing persons.
The damages were the largest judgment ever issued by the Stausbourg, France-based court, according to the Associated Press.
In its ruling, the court said the years that had passed since an initial finding of responsibility in 2001 had not erased Turkey's responsibility for what transpired in the invasion.
The court ordered $30 million of the damages paid to families of missing people who were never found after the invasion and $60 million to Greek Cypriots stranded in a new country declared by Turkey but never recognized by any other nation, the AP said.
Hundreds of Greek Cypriots still live in the northern part of Cyprus occupied by Turkey.
But the ruling could impact new efforts in the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities to reunite the island, the AP said.
Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said before the ruling that any judgment against Turkey would be ill-timed and unenforceable, but would not lessen Ankara's determination to resolve all outstanding disputes.
"Not only is it legally problematic, its timing is wrong," Davutoglu said.
A spokesman for the Cyprus government in Nicosia called on Turkey to comply with the court's ruling and pay the damages immediately.
"Despite the fact that the persecution and hardship that they have endured cannot be measured in money, the Cyprus government welcomes the fact that the court again condemns in this way Turkey's policy of violating the human rights of the enclaved," spokesman Nikos Christodoulides told the AP.
Some analysts told the AP that the new decision was particularly notable not only because of its size, but because it blamed Turkey for the invasion and occupation.
"The big question is how the decision will affect the negotiations that are the most promising ever," Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Center told the AP.
"It could put the talks into difficulty," he said.
Nicos Sergides, who heads a Greek Cypriot organization of relatives of missing persons, said the ruling offered new hope for finding out what happened to the missing.
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