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Much tut-tutting last week over a British couple allowed to keep their holiday home in Northern Cyprus even though it was built on land taken from a local Greek family during the 1974 conflict. But don't rush to judgement warns Ros Dodd...

Hurrah for the Orams' High Court victory this week, which saw a judge rule that the retired Sussex couple could keep their villa in North Cyprus.

This is a complicated saga, but here are the basic facts: David and Linda Orams had a property built on land near Kyrenia in the Turkish part of the divided Mediterranean island in 2003, which was once owned by the Greek Cypriot family of one Meletios Apostolides. In 2004, Mr Apostolides won a ruling from a court in Greek-dominated South Cyprus that said the Orams should rip down their house or pay him thousands of pounds in compensation.

Mr Apostolides now lives in the South, where he's been since the Turkish army militarily intervened in the summer of 1974. The operation saw Greeks in the North uprooted to the south, thus losing their homes and land.

This perceived injustice still festers like an open wound with Greek Cypriots more than three decades later, hence Mr Apostolides' decision to take legal action against the Orams.

Despite the High Court ruling in the Orams' favour, many people's sympathies will lie with the displaced Mr Apostolides.

I am not one of them. Having lived for four years in North Cyprus, I know a little more than most about the political situation that led to the likes of Mr Apostolides being dispatched unceremoniously to the south.

Turkey had very good reason to send its troops into Cyprus in 1974. The constitution set up after the British sloped off, in typical empirical fashion, in 1960 allowed for the possibility of military intervention by the guarantor powers (Britain, America and Turkey) if that constitution was broken.

It was, in spectacular fashion. Under pressure from the military junta ruling Greece, which sought union of Cyprus with Greece (known as enosis), Archbishop Makarios, the Greek Cypriot President, embarked on what we would now term an ‘ethnic cleansing' programme. Turkish Cypriots were encouraged to make new lives abroad, while those who stayed were herded into enclaves. The vile pre-1960s Eoka terrorist group gun-slinger Nicos Sampson came into his own again and laid plans to annihilate the minority Turkish Cypriot population.

As ever when it suits them, America and Britain stood back and did nothing. Finally, Turkey snapped and sent in troops to protect the Turkish Cypriots. Interestingly, despite every country in the world apart from Turkey refusing, even now, to formally recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, America and Britain almost certainly knew about, and gave their tacit approval to, the ‘invasion'. The war - which the Turks won - saw Greeks in the north relocated to the south and vice versa.

The Greeks have never got over their trouncing, despite the fact their part of the island has benefited hugely from international political recognition and, as a result, a booming tourism industry. They whine constantly about their ‘lost' homes and land, seemingly oblivious to the fact Turkish Cypriots in the south faced the same fate and now, relocated to the north, suffer ongoing deprivations such as being unable to do direct business with the international community or even welcome direct flights into the country.

It is against this long running political backdrop that Mr Apostolides launched his legal battle.

What he fails to realise - or chooses to ignore - is that he and his compatriots brought this messy situation upon themselves. Crying over spilt milk is as mean-minded as it is disingenuous.

The greedy-minded Greek Cypriots had their comeuppance in the British courts this week. I've no doubt the saga will run and run with a string of appeals, but what is gratifying is that some 45 years since Britain effectively abandoned the Turkish Cypriots to tyranny and potential mass murder, justice - of a sort - has finally won the day.

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