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Cyprus

Turkey won't pay Cyprus despite decision in Strasbourg

Turkey has refused to pay damages to Cyprus. On Monday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey must make amends for its 1974 invasion and the island's subsequent division.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the 90 million euros ($124 million) awarded to Cyprus by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unfair. He said the judgment put all the blame for the island's division on Turkey, which seeks to join the European Union but does not officially recognize the government of EU member Cyprus.

"In terms of the grounds of this ruling, its method, and the fact that it is considering a country that Turkey does not recognize as a counterparty, we see no necessity to make this payment," Davutoglu told reporters on Tuesday.

"Yesterday's ECHR ruling consists of some legal contradictions and therefore we don't see it as at all binding, in terms of payment," he said.

The division of Cyprus began in 1974, when Turkey invaded after a coup by a group calling to join with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway state proclaimed in northern Cyprus.

The officially recognized state in the south brought the case to the Strasbourg-based ECHR 20 years ago, demanding financial compensation over missing Greek Cypriots, the property of displaced people and violations of other human rights. In 2001, the court ruled largely in the plaintiff's favor, but took more than a decade to mete out a penalty, a delay that Davutoglu says has undermined a fresh peace drive on the island that began in February.

"We think that this ruling has been the biggest blow to this process," Davutoglu said. "If a comprehensive solution is desired, then everyone should be aware of their responsibilities. When looked at the history of this problem, the timing of this case is meaningful."

mkg/lw (Reuters, AP)

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