An inspection of Turkish Cypriot refugee properties in Baf / Paphos by a delegation from the Greek Cypriot Parliament’s Refugees Committee ended in an angry exchange that required police intervention.
The Committee’s visit on Friday to Mutallo / Mouttalos led to a face-off with Greek Cypriot refugees, resulting in “some pushing and shoving…following a heated argument”, according to a report in the Cyprus Mail.
Prior to the 1974 Cyprus War Mutallo, located in the heart of Paphos in what it now called the ‘Old town’, was a Turkish district of the city that was abandoned by its inhabitants as part of the 1975 Population Exchange. Turkish Cypriots moved to North Cyprus and Greek Cypriots to the South.
Paphos’s current mayor Phedonas Phedonos has aired his unhappiness at the misuse of these properties, which are meant to be under the “guardianship” of South Cyprus’ Ministry of Interior.
Under South Cyprus’ Guardian Laws, Turkish Cypriot refugee properties cannot be sold, but are instead maintained and rented, with rental income saved for the Turkish Cypriot owners, who can come and reclaim their properties if they satisfy various criteria.
Phedonos has complained about the lack of transparency in the usage of these Turkish Cypriot refugees’ properties. He claims they are being ‘distributed to non-beneficiaries’ and as a result, the properties are only serving ‘the interests of the few and privileged’.
The Mayor has taken action to try and stop the exploitation of the properties in Mutallo, but his preservation projects have been criticised by others who accuse him of ‘arbitrary moves’ that lack the approval of the Ministry of Interior.
Police had to intervene on Friday after tempers flared when members of the Refugees Committee visited the district.
Main image, top, of Paphos old town and Mutallo/Moutallos Mosque minaret, in Cyprus. Photo © kirill_makarov / Shutterstock