By occupying the northern part of Cyprus, Turkey gradually and forcibly expelled 200.000 Greek Cypriots, over a third population of the total population, from their properties, where they constituted about 70% of the population of the occupied areas.
They were forced to become refugees in their own country and seek refuge in the government-controlled areas. The Cyprus Government provided temporary housing in settlements set up as a matter of emergency for this purpose.
The European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (ECHR), examining the issue of the refugees, ruled on 10 May 2001 that Turkey violated the Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the right of Greek Cypriot refugees to return, have access to and enjoy their properties. The violation of this right was also condemned by the ECHR in decisions taken in cases of individual complaints by Greek Cypriot refugees.
The legal right of Greek Cypriot displaced people to their properties in the occupied areas was reaffirmed by the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ) in the Apostolides v. Orams case (28 April 2009). In the crucial decision for the protection of the property rights of the Greek Cypriot displaced people, the ECJ recognized that they remain the legal owners of their properties in the occupied areas, despite the continuing Turkish occupation, and consequently, they can now effectively defend their property rights, appealing against the European usurpers of their properties before a Civil Court of the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey, however, continues not to abide by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the resolutions on refugees of the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and other international organizations.