By David Bjorkgren
Special to the Hellenic News of America
Amidst warming relations between Greece, Israel and Cyprus, Israel’s Public Tribunal & Arbitrage, International announced recently that Cypriots and Greeks are entitled to compensation from Turkey for crimes against the people of those two nations.
“Cypriots and Greeks can receive 50 billion Euros from Turkey at our Tribunal for Turkish genocide and crimes against humanity, occupation and annexation toward said states and people,” wrote Professor Solomon Budnik, chairman of the Public Tribunal & Arbitrage, International, based in Tel Aviv.
The Tribunal, which is registered at the Israeli Ministry of Justice, was created to help state, commercial and private parties get compensations and awards in cases of gross human rights violations and Holocaust, as well as loss of property and investments caused by breaches of contract and abuse of law.
“Information is available for your class action damages claim to our Tribunal in the name of Cypriot and Greek people,” he wrote.
Prof. Solomon Budnik is the chairman and president of the tribunal and arbitrage court, handling civil and criminal matters in human rights, state, banking and commercial matters and disputes. Prominent lawyers are on the panel of the Tribunal.
The Tribunal was created after “bias, misconduct, extreme negligence and injustice” were discovered in the Israeli courts. Its mission includes mitigating trade and commercial damages caused by local and international parties in civil, criminal and arbitrage cases, according to the Tribunal’s website.
In May 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the Turkish government to pay 90 million euros ($124 million) to Cyprus over human rights abuses committed during and after Turkey’s invasion of the island in 1974.
In response, Turkey said it was not bound by the ruling, which it claimed was timed to undermine a fresh peace initiative regarding Cyprus. A former Turkish judge at the ECHR, Riza Turmen, indicated that Turkey would have to pay the compensation, according to a May 2014 Reuters article.
“It’s extremely clear from Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says all signatories are committed to comply with final decisions,” Turmen told Reuters.
This year marks the 44th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. On July 20, 1974, Turkey sent troops to the island after a brief Greek Cypriot coup staged by supporters of unification with Greece. Cyprus has been split ever since into an internationally recognized southern Greek Cypriot state and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot entity in the north recognized only by Turkey.
Cyprus approached the ECHR in 1994 demanding financial compensation over missing Greek Cypriots, the property of displaced people and violations of human rights. It is estimated that nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots faced forcible eviction and displacement after the Turkish invasion. More than 1,600 Greek Cypriots and Greeks are missing and presumed dead following the invasion.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara an ECHR ruling on the case would not be binding in terms of international law, according to the Reuters article.
Mediators have been trying to resolve issues with Cyprus for many years, as they look at the claims of thousands of people from both sides uprooted by the conflict.
Relations have improved in recent years between Israel, Greece and Cyprus, especially with regards to energy and security. Israel and Cyprus have large gas reserves in their territorial waters and a desire to export gas to Europe together with Cyprus’ close ally, Greece, whose location is a strategic transit stop, according to an April 6, 2018 article by Noa Landau in Haaratz. Israel reported some of the largest gas finds in the past decade and Cyprus has confirmed a discovery, making them both potential exporters, the article states.
In December, Israel signed a memorandum of understanding with Cyprus, Greece and Italy to develop a gas pipeline to Europe. Israel and Greece have also been holding joint military exercises, the article states.
On May 8, 2018, the leaders of Cyprus, Israel, and Greece agreed to go ahead with a plan for a pipeline that will supply east Mediterranean gas to Europe, and to build undersea electricity and fiber optic cables that will link the three countries. according to a May 8 article in The Times of Israel. That work is expected to begin this year. The proposed EastMed Pipeline Project would start about 170 kilometers (105 miles) off Cyprus’s southern coast and stretch for 2,200 kilometers (1,350 miles) to reach Otranto, Italy, via Crete and the Greek mainland.
Exxon and Qatar Petroleum are among the foreign energy firms that signed drilling and production contracts with Cyprus. Turkey has attempted to block such efforts. Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan warned those companies “not to cross the line” in the past, claiming that the drilling activity was infringing on the Cypriot Turks’ rights to natural resources on the island. Cyprus says the income will be divided equally after the island is united. Turkey has refused to sign the Agreement of UN Convention of the Sea and claims that 70 percent of resources found between Cyprus and Egypt actually belong to the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey.
The American Navy recently had to secure vessels belonging to Exxon, which were looking for gas off of Cyprus’ shores, after Turkish warships tried to stop them from doing so.