Turkey’s refusal to pay up is ‘a challenge to Europe’

By Anthony O. Miller

LAWYER Achilleas Demetriades says Turkey’s refusal to honour a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in favour of his client, Titina Loizidou, shows Turkey is unfit to remain in the Council of Europe, and not ready to join the European Union.

Ankara, in an unprecedented rebuff to the Court, let lapse an October 28 deadline for paying Loizidou £320,000 in damages for denying her access to her home in the Turkish-occupied north.

Turkey’s refusal to pay not only could cost Ankara its seat in the Council of Europe (CoE), but is also “a slap in the face” to Loizidou and “the whole system of Human Rights protection built by the Council of Europe”, Demetriades said.

“It’s a challenge to the system, and I think other members of the system should take a firm stand on it and take a position that will make Turkey accept judgments of the Court,” he said.

He suggested the CoE’s 40 member states should explore “to what extent can monetary awards of the European Court of Justice be executed in member countries against assets” of a member in default of a Court judgment.

The question, he noted, has never been asked in the Court’s 48-year history, because “no state has refused, or in fact avoided, paying a monetary award”.

“The Court has clearly said that Turkey, by virtue of the military forces that it has in the area under its control in Northern Cyprus, exercises effective control,” Demetriades said.

“Therefore it has responsibility for what is going on over there in terms of human rights, and this responsibility is not absolved by the creation of a subordinate local administration, the ‘TRNC’.”

“The judgment is there. The question is: does Turkey accept the judgment? If the answer is ‘no’, then they should seriously consider their position in the Council of Europe, and Europe in general,” Demetriades said.

“If Turkey does not choose to be part of the Council of Europe, then the repercussions are greater, because they, by implication, confirm their non- compliance to human rights. And, therefore, they have no place in the EU either.”

Demetriades said Turkey will not immediately be ejected from the CoE, but would be subject instead to “a gradual pressure” by the Council’s Committee of Ministers, which supervises the execution of the Court’s judgments.

“They would prepare a resolution calling upon Turkey to comply with the judgment. If they (the Turks) fail to do that, then there is a mechanism whereby they (the ministers) will start to take action in order to expel them (Turkey) from the Council of Europe,” he explained.