(Application no. 31206/02)
29 September 2009
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Fokas v. Turkey,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Boštjan M. Zupančič,
Luis López Guerra,
Ann Power, judges,
and Stanley Naismith, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 8 September 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
“...The Turkish nationals who are not of Greek origin are entitled to acquire property only by permission and within the limits of the law which regulates 55% of the total Greek territory. In practice, the condition of “permission” functions as a mechanism aimed at preventing the Turkish nationals to acquire property. In other areas, which are not covered by the said law, the Turkish nationals of non-Greek origin and the Greek nationals of Turkish origin are prevented by various means from acquiring immovable property either by purchasing or inheriting. These people are compelled to sell their immovable property. Yet the Turkish nationals of Greek origin are able to acquire immovable property in the areas covered by that law on the condition that they obtain the requisite permission. While there is information on the subject, it is not based on concrete evidence and therefore its assessment should be made by the courts...”
In view of this opinion, the court held that the applicants were not entitled to the right of inheritance for immovable property in Turkey on account of their nationality and in view of the principle of reciprocity between Greece and Turkey. The applicants appealed against this judgment.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 TO THE CONVENTION
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”
1. Parties’ submissions
a. The respondent Government
b. The applicants
c. The Greek Government
2. The Court’s assessment
a. Applicable principles
b. Whether there were “possessions”
c. The Court’s findings in the case of Nacaryan and Deryan
d. Whether the applicants had “legitimate expectation” of obtaining effective enjoyment of a property right
II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) reserves the said question;
(b) invites the Government and the applicants to submit, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final according to Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, their written observations on the matter and, in particular, to notify the Court of any agreement that they may reach;
(c) reserves the further procedure and delegates to the President of the Chamber the power to fix the same if need be.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 29 September 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Stanley Naismith Josep Casadevall
Deputy Registrar President