Scottish-Cypriot woman fights Turkey for land and property compensation

Maria Norwell Perth Scotland Cypriot

A Scottish-Cypriot woman is going through the arduous task of attempting to retrieve a home and a large swathe of land in Kyrenia in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

81-year-old Maria Norwell lost the property she inherited from her family when Turkey invaded and occupied northern Cyprus in 1974, reported The Courier in an exclusive report.

Her father became a wealthy businessman and bought property and orchards in Kyrenia by working closely with British colonists.

Maria Norwell Perth Scotland
Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

However, during riots and unrest in 1957 when Cyprus attempted to gain independence from the UK, her father was shot dead, in which Norwell believes was because of his close affiliation with the British.

Maria was 14 when she and her older sister were sent to the UK, settling down eventually in the central Scottish city of Perth.

Although Cyprus finally achieved independence, Turkey would occupy northern Cyprus in 1974 following a Greek military coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

She said to The Courier: “My mum, like most people, didn’t want to leave her house. She had to go to Nicosia instead. One of my cousins ended up getting shot and some of my friends were beheaded. It was terrible.”

Calls for compensation from Turkish Government

Maria inherited the plot following her mother's death, but she has not been able to claim it, especially as the Turkish military has built on her property. She now wants to be compensated by Turkey for this loss.

Maria Norwell Perth Scotland
Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

She said to The Courier: “The Turkish Government is under pressure from human rights groups. They brought out a commission which allows people who lost land during the war to apply for compensation.

"It is a significant amount of land in a prime area, it is not just a little patch of ground I inherited. The Immovable Property Commission was set up in 2006 after input from the European Court of Human Rights.

"This commission looks to financially compensate those who were forced from their homes in northern Cyprus in 1974. Over 7,200 applications have been made so far and £382.5 million has been awarded to over 1,300 people.

Hopes for a resolution for her family

She explained that she got a Turkish lawyer four years ago to take on her case and apply for compensation through this commission – but has not heard anything since.

She said she wants to get this issue sorted quickly for her daughters before she dies.

Norwell said: “It would be nice to get the compensation while I am still alive. I don’t know if anyone else will be able to do anything about it.

“Türkiye is under pressure, but I don’t think they have any intention to give me anything. They have compensated many people over the years, but this is now the fourth or fifth year of me waiting.”

Pressure on the UK Foreign Office
Ms Norwell is now working with

Now John Swinney MSP and Pete Wishart MP are now taking on Maria's case to try and find a resolution.

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