COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Parliamentary Assembly [AACR27.98 AS (1998) CR27] 1403-2219/98-3-E / Provisional edition / 1998 ORDINARY SESSION (Fourth part) REPORT. Twenty-seventh sitting / Tuesday 22 September 1998 at 3 p.m.
THE PRESIDENT - The next question is No.8. Question No.8:
Mr COX. To ask the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers.
What discussion he had had with members of the Committee of Ministers regarding the recent case of Loizidou v. Turkey, on which the European Court on Human Rights has pronounced a judgement.
Mr PAPANDREOU.- In response to the honourable members question. I can inform him that the Committee of Ministers, following the Court's judgement on 18 December 1996 on the merits in this case. decided to await the Court's judgement on the question of just satisfaction under Article 50 of the convention. It took a similar decision regarding its consideration of those complaints in Mrs Loizidou's application which could not be decided by the court for lack of jurisdiction ratione teinporis.
The Court's judgement under Article 50 was delivered on 28 July 1998. The Committee of Ministers will now pursue its consideration of the case under Articles 32 and 54 of the convention. A first exchange of views was held to that effect at the Committee of Ministers' human rights meeting on 14 September 1998. Further consideration will be given to the case, in accordance with the Committee of Ministers' normal procedures, at the next human rights meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 27 October 1998.
Finally. I would like to mention that the "Loizidou case versus Turkey is a landmark judgement of the court. Allow me to remind you that Mrs Loizidou is a Cypriot woman who. since 1974, has been prevented by Turkish forces from peacefully enjoying her property in Kyrenia. in the occupied northern part of Cyprus. In its finding. the court has determined that she remains the legal owner of her property and that the Turkish occupation troops by preventing her from having access to this property. have violated Article 1 of the First Protocol of the Convention. The court rejected the allegations of Turkey that it was not liable for what is happening in the occupied territory of Cyprus.
A few weeks ago the Turkish Minister, of Foreign Affairs convened the ambassadors of the Council of Europe member states posted in Ankara and handed them a memorandum. In this memorandum it is clearly stated that Turkey will not comply with the Court's judgement, on the grounds that the Turks consider that they are not liable for what is going on in the occupied part of Cyprus. If Turkey insists on her refusal beyond the three-month term provided for the execution of the Court's judgement. the Committee of Ministers will certainly assume its responsibility, provided by Article 54 of the Convention of Human Rights. and will I am sure - use all statutory, means at its disposal to obtain the execution of the Court's judgement.
If Turkey does not pay the compensation and does not take individual measures to restore Mrs Loizidou's rights. putting an end to their violation, then Turkey is simply being consistent with what it has already declared. In such a case the problem is not with Turkey, the problem remains with all the other members of the Committee of Ministers.
THE PRESIDENT.- If you have a supplementary question. Mr Cox. you have the floor.Mr COX (United Kingdom).- I thank the Minister for his detailed reply. I am sure that he is fully aware that this is one of the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe and of the Court of Human Rights. He has outlined the background to the case, so I shall not ~o over it. but I hope that we will receive a firm assurance from him that the rules and procedures of the Court will be upheld and that Turkey will be expected to honour the decision.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE Parliamentary Assembly / AACR25 .98 AS (1998) CR 25 / 1403-21/9/98-1-E /Provisional edition / 1998 ORDINARY SESSION / (Fourth pant) / REPORT /Twenty-fifth sitting. Monday 21 September 1998 at 3 p.m.
Mr COX (United Kingdom).- I listened with interest to the presentation of the report of the Bureau. but I find it regrettable that no reference was made to an important decision that has recently been made by the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg on 28 July, in the case of Loizidou v. Turkey.
The case centres on the claim made by Mrs Loizidou as to the loss of her property and of control over her property in what is now the occupied area of northern Cyprus. Cyprus and Turkey are both members of this Assembly and, as you will know, Mr President. we have often discussed the issue of Turkey's occupation of northern Cyprus. That is why I assert the importance of that issue to the Assembly and why I wish to highlight Turkey's response to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case.
Seventeen judges heard the case in Strasbourg. The case and the hearings related to it go back as far as December 1996. The hearing on the case took place in open court. Turkey was legally represented at the hearings. so no one can say that the Court was in any way biased, or that a party to the dispute - Turkey - did not have the opportunity to present its case and its views. The case comes under Article 50 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which clearly states: "Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions."
Mrs Loizidous property and land are in Kyrenia. which now forms part of the occupied area of northern Cyprus. As such. she is refused access to those assets by the Turkish authority. That formed the basis of her case. presented under the approved legal requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court ruled overwhelmingly that Turkey had a responsibility as to the loss of use of the property by Mrs Loizidou and her family. The Court voted 15 in favour of her case and two against. It made a financial award to Mrs Loizidou in the form of compensation for the loss that she had suffered. There was no doubt as to how the case was presented, how the Court heard it or the decision of the Court.
All that is on record. The action that Turkey has now taken in deeply regrettable. I understand that it has not accepted the Court's ruling in the case. I can understand how many of us from various countries do not like the decisions of the Court. The United Kingdom has, over the years. lost many cases in that Court; but because we believe in the need to respect the rule of law. we have always accepted the judgement of the Court.
To me, the issue is absolutely clear. Do we as an Assembly respect the Court and its decisions; and do we expect and demand that all member states should accept the authority of the Court? That is the question I put to the Assembly now. That is our responsibility as members of the Assembly. I understand that, over the years in which the Court has sat and passed judgement. not a single member state has ever failed to obey the Court's rulings. I hope that Turkey will not be the first country' to attempt to do so.
I put to the rapporteur the great importance of this case, not only to the authority of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, but to the Assembly of the Council of Europe of which both Cyprus and Turkey are members. I ask the rapporteur to refer the matter to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and hope that. at the next session in January. in the Bureau's next report to the Assembly -whether through a new rapporteur or the current one - we can be given an update. I hope that Turkey will by then have clearly accepted the Courts judgement; if it has not, I shall expect the Assembly to make known its views as to what action it intends to take when a member state of the Assembly commits a flagrant abuse and denial of a clear-cut legal judgement by the Court.