[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Monday ordered [judgment] Turkey to pay €90 million (USD $123 million) to Cyprus for invading the island in 1974. Thirty million euros are to be paid [AP report] in damages to relatives of the missing, and €60 million have been allocated for residents of the Karpas peninsula. Speaking on the judgement, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated the decision was not binding and that the ruling came at a bad time, as Turkish and Cypriot communities are currently working to reunite the island. The Cypriot government will be in charge of paying the awards to individuals.
Tensions between ethnic Turks and Greeks in Cyprus [JURIST news archive] have long been high. Cyprus split into two areas, the Greek controlled south and the Turkish controlled north, when Turkey invaded the island in 1974 to quell a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. Attempts to reunite the island have thus far been unsuccessful. In 2010 the Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] overturned [JURIST report] a law that allowed the prosecution of military personnel in civilian courts and prevented military prosecution of civilians during peacetime. The court was unanimous in its decision to overturn the law, which was seen as necessary for Turkish accession [JURIST report] to the European Union (EU) [official website]. In 2004 Turkish and Greek negotiators failed to agree on a plan to reunify Cyprus ahead of its entry into the EU. Despite the failure, Cyprus was one of 10 new members that joined the EU in May 2004.