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Has McCarthyism come to Cyprus?

The Cyprus Interior Minister’s conviction that those campaigning for their property rights have ulterior motives is ridiculous. It is inconceivable that a senior government minister could believe such bizarre conspiracy theories about a chronic problem for which the island’s authorities are entirely to blame.

I WAS pleased to read that the Interior Minister, Neoclis Sylikiotis, plans sweeping changes to property law to help put an end to the Title Deed fiasco. But the Minister is deluding himself if he thinks there is some sort of conspiracy going on between the “malevolent” foreign press and those with ‘ulterior motives’.

The Government of Cyprus, quite rightly, warns people about buying Greek Cypriot owned property in areas of the island under Turkish occupation.

But as soon as someone mentions there are problems associated with buying property in the free areas, it’s all a conspiracy by those with ‘ulterior motives’ to divert attention from what’s happening in the north or to help Cyprus’ competitors in the overseas property market.

Has McCarthyism come to Cyprus? Does the Minister truly believe there are ‘Reds under the beds’ in his own back yard trying to destroy the island’s economy?

How can reporting the truth be malevolent? If you were deceived and misled by a crooked company, wouldn’t you warn others to prevent them falling into the same trap?

The Minister’s statement “property investment is much safer in Cyprus than anywhere else” simply isn’t true!

For more than 10 years I’ve been helping people avoid and overcome the many problems when buying property. I know of many who have lost literally hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result of the conmen operating in the property industry and legal profession. Others have suffered nervous breakdowns, strokes and other health problems. Stressful situations have caused marriages to break-up and lives to be destroyed. The Minister’s statement “property investment is much safer in Cyprus than anywhere else” simply isn’t true!

The Cyprus government has known about the problems and the efforts of those who have been mislead and defrauded for some considerable time.

At the end of 2007, and at the request of the then Minister of Finance Dr Michalis Sarris, the Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) prepared a report for the Cyprus government. Entitled “Cyprus Property Pitfalls – a Time for Action“, it detailed the problems faced by Cypriot and non-Cypriot property buyers together with suggestions on how those problems could be resolved.

After their meeting with Dr Sarris, CPAG were confident that the Cyprus Government would be willing to discuss the issues and work towards resolving them.

However, more than 18 months have now passed since the report was delivered and the current Government hasn’t even shown the common courtesy of acknowledging receipt of the report, let alone shown any willingness to discuss the problems. Subsequent letters appealing to President Christofias have also gone unanswered.

If you approached the Government for help and were met by a wall of silence, wouldn’t you start canvassing the local and foreign media, foreign governments and the European Union for their help and support?

With the support of the many property buyers who have contacted them, this is precisely what CPAG has done. It seems that the only way to get things done in Cyprus is to name and shame – or block the highways with tractors and lorries.

More than eighteen months ago, the CPAG report presented to government concluded:

The future of the Cyprus property industry has reached a crossroads. Unless the authorities act quickly to remedy the situation, the damage caused to Cyprus’ good name and reputation could have far-reaching consequences. At the very least, the financial repercussions resulting from the drop in foreign revenues from property sales, and tourism, could be catastrophic for the island’s economy.

Regrettably, the honest property developers are suffering the ill effects as is the Cyprus economy.

But still those honest developers and the government continue to do nothing about the rogues and conmen who plague the property industry and who tarnish Cyprus’ good name and reputation.

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