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Monday, 9 May 1994
Page: 475

(Question No. 1107)


Senator Chamarette asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 1 March 1994:

  (1) At the time of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, were Australian citizens amongst those forcefully expelled from their ancestral homes in what is now Turkish occupied territory by the invading Turkish forces.

  (2) Do the Australian citizens affected continue to be denied access by Turkish occupation forces to their homes and property on the basis that they are of Greek extraction, whereas Anglo-Saxon Britons are free to enjoy access to any property located in the occupied part of Cyprus that they may have owned prior to the 1974 invasion; if so, is the Australian Government prepared to grant legal aid to those who:

  (a) were Australian citizens prior to the Turkish invasion and are now dispossessed of their ancestral homes and property so that those Australian citizens may pursue their claims in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg; and

  (b) were not Australian citizens prior to the Turkish invasion but have subsequently become Australian citizens and are now dispossessed of their ancestral homes and property so that those Australian citizens may pursue their claims in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The Australian Government is aware that a number of Australian citizens were expelled from their properties in northern Cyprus after the Turkish invasion in 1974.

  (2) In 1975, the Turkish Cypriot administration announced that it would accept property claims from "third party states", that is from individuals not of Greek or Greek Cypriot origin. Most claims lodged by this category of persons, and which could be verified by production of a title deed, have now been settled. Property claims by persons of Greek or Greek Cypriot extraction, or with any Greek or Greek Cypriot links (such as Greek financing of the original purchase), have not been accepted by the Turkish Cypriot administration. While Australian citizens in general are not targeted for special treatment, citizens and residents of Australia of Greek or Greek Cypriot extraction are denied access to the north, as are residents and citizens of other countries of Greek or Greek Cypriot extraction. The question of granting legal aid to Australian citizens, whether citizens at the time of the Turkish invasion or not, is one more appropriately directed to the Attorney-General. A comprehensive negotiated settlement based on the UN Secretary-General's Set of Ideas and which makes provision for the recovery of or compensation for property expropriated, rather than litigation, remains the best hope for those Australian citizens dispossessed in 1974.