Friday, March 12, 2010

Don't drag your feet

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Greek Cypriots driven from their homes during the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974 cannot plead attachment to family homes indefinitely. Nor can they demand their homes back, if those homes are occupied by other people over time. But they can, and should, receive adequate compensation for their lost property.

A majority of the court's 17 judges "fully accepted the Turkish position - whereby reality overrides 'family roots,' time outweighs sentiment and the rights of the tenant come before those of the owner. The refugees, the court said, can receive what they are entitled to in cash." The court's most important message: if you wait and wait and wait, you're less likely to regain what you've lost.

The ECHR is a powerful institution whose influence extends beyond the borders of Europe. It would be great if, over time, the ECHR decision tempers sympathy for maximalist Palestinian demands to return to property their grandparents or great-grandparents owned in 1948. However, I'm not holding my breath! (Thanks to Daily Alert.)


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