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Cyprus' Political Climate Change

Sep 8, 2008
Anybody contemplating purchasing a second, or replacement home abroad at the moment should be watching the current political manoeuvrings and goings on in Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot North, which accounts for one third of the island, and a Greek Cypriot south since 1974, when the installed Greek nationalist leader Nikos Sampson became de facto president of the island. Sampson, who sought to unite the island with Greece, lasted in his post only eight days, and his installation as president, on the 15th of July 1974, was shortly followed by the Turkish invasion of Northern Cyprus on the 20th of July.

The island has remained divided since, with separate political leaders, separate airports and even separate football federations. During this division property prices on the Greek Cypriot side of the island have been relatively healthy - at the moment the average house price is around 150,000 - in comparison with those in the UK. Since Cyprus joined the EU and NATO in 2004 prices have grown at a rate of about 20 percent a year. Property and land prices in North Cyprus are, at the moment, lower than those on the Cypriot side, although they occupy the same naturally beautiful island. For many reasons, that I shall discuss below, it is looking increasingly likely that reunification will come to the island, and for this reason many property developers, as well as property investors and private purchasers are buying up land and property in North Cyprus. Just as house prices in Cyprus began to rise after EU succession and the joining of NATO, so to are prices expected to rise in the North to equal those of the South at the moment of reunification.

Many factors are shaping up to inject the North Cyprus property market with current investor interest. For one, the election of Demetris Christofias, the Russian educated leader of the Greek Cypriot Progressive Party Of Working People, as President this February has revived a dialogue of reunification which completely stalled under his predecessor, the nationalist Tassos Papadopoulos.

Christofias has announced that the main aim of his government to be the reunification of the island, and Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Greek Orthodox Church, who only three weeks gave a speech that suggested his anti-reunification views had remained unchanged since the days of Papadopoulos, yesterday announced a U-turn. Speaking at the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives the Archbishop gave his support to Christofias's reunification plans, stating that 'his successes will be to the benefit of our people and homeland.'

Christofias and his northern counterpart, Mehmet Ali Talat, have taken the symbolic gesture of installing a direct line between their offices, and have set up talks that are designed to flesh out a blueprint for reunification that begin this September.

In addition, the fact that North Cyprus is, unlike the Greek side, currently outside of the Eurozone, means that property investment is currently more favourable there for people buying in pounds, as the Euro is currently strong against the pound. The final piece of information that is buoying interest in the North Cyprus property market is that Turkey, who have been accused before of standing on the sidelines of negotiations. However, with EU succession for the country being discussed, and Cyprus now holding the power of veto, it is very much in Turkey's favour to be pro-active and amenable during revived round of discussions.
About the Author
Martin Gavin is a writer for White Rocks
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