Turkey on Tuesday refused European court orders to pay Cyprus compensation for invading the island 40 years ago, even as it demands compensation from Israel over the death of violent Islamists on the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Turkey to pay Cyprus $124 million as compensation for invading the island in 1974. Cyprus has remained divided into an internationally-recognized Greek section in the south, and a Turkish section in the north only recognized by Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday that his country had no intention of paying the compensation, despite wanting to join the European Union (EU) which Cyprus is a member of, reports Voice of America.
“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 counter-party, we see no necessity to make this payment,” Davutoglu said, rejecting recognition of Cyprus.
Cyprus brought the case to the ECHR 20 years ago, asking compensation for missing Greek Cypriots and the property of displaced persons, as well as other human rights violations. The court ruled against Turkey in 2001, but has only now decided on the compensation sum, in a delay Turkey says is meant to prevent it joining the EU.
Speaking about the situation in Cyprus, Davutoglu said "we think that this ruling has been the biggest blow to this process. 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."
Demanding to receive compensation, not pay it
The Turkish stance may be seen as hypocritical to some, given that Israel has offered to pay $20 million in "compensation" to the families of Turkish citizens killed during the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, which tried to illegally break the IDF blockade on the terror group Hamas in Gaza. Nine Turkish Islamists were killed as they violently attacked IDF soldiers who boarded their ship.
Davutoglu reported "positive developments" last Thursday in compensation talks, saying that “problems have been substantially overcome.”
Last week a Turkish newspaper released details of a high-level meeting of the country's military leaders, in which the Turkish government considered sending warships into Israel as a military escort for the Mavi Marmara - and the possibility of triggering a war with the Jewish state as a result of the naval invasion.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel was carrying no humanitarian aid as it claimed to be. When Israel refused Turkey’s demands to apologize for raiding the Marmara, Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara.
Under pressure from US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized last March to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the deaths of the activists on the Marmara, and talks began on the compensation agreement.