Struggling for basic rights on Imvros

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Gat

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Mar 1, 2010
 
Gat

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Struggling for basic rights on Imvros

IN THE LAST few years Greek natives from the island of Imvros, part of Turkey, have been returning in large numbers for visits to their northern Aegean homeland.

Putting aside a half century of persecution in what was perhaps the most sophisticated of Turkey’s 20th-century schemes to evict its minorities, an estimated 2,500 Greek Imvriots now return to their island each summer, says Paris Asanakis, president of the Imvriots Association of Athens.

Up until the 1960s, Greek residents on the island represented the overwhelming majority before their numbers declined dramatically. Now, for the first time in decades, their numbers have begun to rise.

The older, mostly less affluent Greek Imvriots who live there at least half the year have gone from 279 in 2005 to 400 today.

Opportunity knocks

“Yes, historically, a systematic programme to wipe out the Greek minority of Imvros was put in effect,” Asanakis told the Athens News.“But right now we should take advantage of opportunities to reclaim what belongs to us.”

In the 1927 census, there were 6,555 ethnic Greeks and 157 ethnic Turks living on Imvros, but the Greek population plummeted to just 300 by the 1990s, and was coupled with a significant rise in Turks.

“The return of Imvriots slowly begins to create a dynamic,” Asanakis says.“A number of senior citizens are beginning to retire there, some for six months a year, others more.”

Asanakis said that a few Imvriots, under the age of 50, have even returned to do business. One drives a taxi, another has taken up animal husbandry, while a third is a beekeeper.

But where there are opportunities there are also obstacles, including the Turkish authorities’ refusal to open the island’s airport or establish ferry connections between Imvros and the nearby Greek island of Limnos.

Few have done more than Asanakis to put Imvros on the European human rights map. His accomplishments include having convinced New Democracy MP Elsa Papademetriou to take up the issue in the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly (see sidebar).

Seized lands

But there has been little progress in the last two years. The Turkish state, in the context of its current registration of lands in a cadastre, has seized almost all the lands belonging to Greeks that it had not expropriated after 1964.

“Because most Greeks have left, authorities record the land. For properties where owners don’t show up to produce titles or to prove they used the land, it is seized by the state,” Asanakis says.“This is the second big expropriation on Imvros. Around each village a few tracts go to private owners, but most go to the state. Ninety-two percent of the land went to the state and 4,900 hectares was seized last year alone.”

Asanakis calls it an “indirect expropriation, with absolutely no compensation. The state,” he adds,“says ‘Come prove the land is yours, or the state gets it’. Only 8 percent managed.”


Imvriots, who number around 20,000 worldwide, including mixed marriages, did better in saving many of their homes by securing title, Asanakis adds.

“The more we make our presence felt, the more difficult it is for them to carry out their plan. In 1994, they expected to seize all the land with summary procedures,” he says.
Gat

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#3
Mar 1, 2010
 
Not ‘crazy’
“In the 1990s, some of us Imvriots - whom the others considered crazy - started going back and renovating our homes. Now, about 550 homes have been renovated, mostly in Shinoudi, a huge village that comprises nearly half the island. But since there were about 2,000 homes there, it still seems like a ghost village,” Asanakis says.
In the last several years, the Greeks host a cultural August, and the 2,500 visitors are a major boost to the island’s economy. That helps keep relations between Greeks and Turks on good terms. Of the older, permanent residents, who work in animal husbandry, the theft of their livestock by local Turks remains the biggest problem.
Asanakis is glad that Imvriots have been able to partly reverse the tide of Turkey’s plan to effectively bring about their extinction on the island.
“There are youths of 15-25 that get depressed if they don’t visit the island once a year. You don’t have that in Istanbul, where the 2,000 Greeks are a drop in the ocean. In the Imvros village of Agridia, 30 Greeks live there year round, with no Turks in the village. That is a different story. It remains to be seen if those returning are enough to replace those dying out.”
The great Turkish land grab
THE MYRIAD administrative and judicial hurdles which Greeks must overcome to prove title to their land on Imvros, after being forced to flee the island, make it nearly impossible to claim even those properties that were not lost in the massive expropriations of the 1960s.
One of the biggest obstacles to date has been a law that forbids non-Turkish citizens from inheriting property in Turkey. However, that statute was turned on its head when the European Court of Human Rights last September ruled that brothers Ioannis and Evangelos Fokas, both Greek citizens, are entitled to inherit property in Turkey.
Despite the landmark ruling, the relevant Turkish law has yet to be changed.
First-hand
The Athens News spoke to an Imvriot Greek with Turkish citizenship who requested anonymity and will be called Pavlos. As an ethnic Greek, even Pavlos’ citizenship has not helped him claim family lands, illustrating just how difficult it can be. He has now petitioned the European Court of Human Rights in seven cases involving dozens of properties.
Out of more than 100 parcels of real estate belonging to his family, he was able to successfully register about 20 percent, but lost most court cases on appeal.
“The whole system was rigged to give title to the Turkish state,” Pavlos says.“It was a charade. It was like a Kafka novel.”
He notes that renting land to a Turkish villager was not accepted as proof of ownership. Even the fact that the names of ancestors who owned the property did not match the surname of current owners was used by judges to reject Pavlos’ title, he says.
The key obstacle, he says, was the flawed procedures to register lands followed in creating the cadastre, beginning in the mid-1990s.
The 1930s land titles presented to the cadastre officials were not accepted as definitive proof of ownership, nor were earlier Ottoman titles and sales contracts in other cases.
Proof
The requirement of having to produce elderly witnesses to establish one’s use of the land many years after the owners were forced to leave was another key problem.
The proof that the family used the property for over 20 years at some point was not enough. Pavlos says he had to prove that he personally used the property over the immediate past 20 years, agriculturally or commercially. Here, even the fact that tax was constantly paid was not sufficient proof.
Complicating matters further, the Turkish state in 2004 declared the whole of Imvros an archaeological site. Pavlos says he was denied title to “at least 10 properties” because they were labelled archaeological sites.
Gat

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#4
Mar 1, 2010
 
When the EU put Imvros and [the island of] Tenedos in Turkey’s EU accession report, Ankara miraculously declared the whole island an archaeological site. That was a far better, more clinical excuse for the expropriation,” says Pavlos, noting that a later law differentiating the archaeological importance of sites had no practical impact.
Gross’ report yielded few results
THE MOST striking thing about Swiss Socialist MP Andreas Gross’ 2008 report on the Greeks of Imvros is not the way it chronicles how various Turkish governments trampled on the islanders’ human rights and pushed them to leave.
What is most baffling is that successive Greek governments did so little to try and stop the abuse.
Former Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis and a litany of foreign ministers, beginning with George Papandreou, and other cabinet members have visited Turkey in the last decade. But not one has dared to set foot on Imvros and Tenedos to visit an indigenous Greek population to which history has been unkind.
New Democracy MP Elsa Papademetriou was a rare exception for Greek politicians. As head of the Greek delegation to the Council of Europe in 2005, she tabled a resolution on the Imvros issue for the first time, signed by MPs from many countries.
“The Turks tried hard to vote it down. I proposed that my Turkish counterpart, Murat Mercan (of the ruling AKP), and I undertake a fact-finding mission to the island,” Papademetriou told the Athens News.“Let us go together and solve a small-scale problem, involving Turkish citizens of Greek descent.”
Progress
“Something very serious was achieved,” she said.“The 279 Greek residents now number 400, and the average age is lower. There has been a colossal effort. There is a young couple where the wife is the nurse for all those Greek senior citizens. She runs around from dawn to dusk and has two kids of her own.”
Papademetriou is encouraged that many hundreds of youths visited Imvros last summer, even for a month, and she underlines that the island’s Greeks are talking to Turkish authorities for the first time.
Mercan was in Athens in mid-February and met with Papademetriou and the president of the Imvriots association, Paris Asanakis. She said Mercan supports the return to Greek owners of lands that were never used for the purpose for which they were expropriated.
The Athens News contacted Mercan and asked what progress there has been since the Gross report. He said he has not been following the issue and that he would look into it. He did not reply to subsequent calls from the Athens News.
The Gross report predicted that the cadastral process will “likely lead to the loss of the vast majority of properties of the current and former Greek inhabitants”.
But almost none of the report’s recommendations have been implemented, among them returning buildings seized from Greek religious foundations or municipalities; returning properties not used for the purpose for which they were expropriated; opening ship transport links between Imvros and Tenedos, and between these islands and Greece; returning Turkish citizenship to those who lost it in the past and to their descendants; and allowing Greeks to re-establish a school or, if there are not enough students, to teach Greek in Turkish schools.
Turkey has said it will open a school if 10 children show up, but hardly any young Greek Imvriots will settle on the island.
Refusing to give up
Still, there are those Greeks who keep hope alive on Imvros, like 69-year-old Nikos Doldouris, who does it with music. A self-made businessman who made his fortune in Australia, Doldouris has managed to bring great musicians to Imvros for concerts, beginning with Ross Daily in 1994 and followed in the ensuing years by Yiorgos Dalaras, Dimitra Galani and Domna Samiou.
Doldouris is now working hard with Turkish authorities to open a ferry link between Imvros and Tenedos and the Greek island of Limnos, which he says the Turkish transport ministry supports.
Gat

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#5
Mar 1, 2010
 
My aim with the concerts was for people to learn that Imvros exists, and I’m proud that I’ve accomplished that,” Doldouris said.“But I also wanted to give Imvros’ Greeks courage, to see that it’s not about fear and lamenting over the past.

“We must do certain things to reclaim our lost dignity,” Doldouris added.“Turkish authorities do not want to wipe out the Greek population. They have already accomplished their aim. But we will disappear if new blood does not come in, older or younger, it matters little.”

Making Imvros Turkish

THROUGH the decades, Turkey has taken numerous actions detrimental to the well-being of the Greeks on the island of Imvros.

1923 Turkey does not enforce article 14 of the Lausanne Treaty, granting Imvros self-administration

1945 State settles 312 Muslim Turks brought from Black Sea region, in Sahinkaya village, administratively linked to biggest Greek village of Shinoudi, to begin altering the island’s demographics

1952 Greek education re-established

1964 Most agricultural land expropriated to construct an open prison (capacity of 1,000 inmates, one-sixth of Imvros’ population), as well as a military base and airport. Greeks, almost all farmers, face economic strangulation. Also, state bans fishing off Imvros for “environmental reasons”,
but allows it for nearby Tenedos, where Muslim Turkish fishermen are numerous

1964 Turkey shuts Greek schools

1965 Prison opens, followed by widespread incidents of violence against Greeks

1980s Some 2,000 Muslim Turks, victims of natural and industrial disasters, are settled in three new villages on Imvros

2000 Displaced Bulgarian Turks are settled on the island
PARADOX

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#6
Mar 1, 2010
 
Gat wrote:
When the EU put Imvros and [the island of] Tenedos in Turkey’s EU accession report, Ankara miraculously declared the whole island an archaeological site. That was a far better, more clinical excuse for the expropriation,” says Pavlos, noting that a later law differentiating the archaeological importance of sites had no practical impact.
Gross’ report yielded few results
THE MOST striking thing about Swiss Socialist MP Andreas Gross’ 2008 report on the Greeks of Imvros is not the way it chronicles how various Turkish governments trampled on the islanders’ human rights and pushed them to leave.
What is most baffling is that successive Greek governments did so little to try and stop the abuse.
Former Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis and a litany of foreign ministers, beginning with George Papandreou, and other cabinet members have visited Turkey in the last decade. But not one has dared to set foot on Imvros and Tenedos to visit an indigenous Greek population to which history has been unkind.
New Democracy MP Elsa Papademetriou was a rare exception for Greek politicians. As head of the Greek delegation to the Council of Europe in 2005, she tabled a resolution on the Imvros issue for the first time, signed by MPs from many countries.
“The Turks tried hard to vote it down. I proposed that my Turkish counterpart, Murat Mercan (of the ruling AKP), and I undertake a fact-finding mission to the island,” Papademetriou told the Athens News.“Let us go together and solve a small-scale problem, involving Turkish citizens of Greek descent.”
Progress
“Something very serious was achieved,” she said.“The 279 Greek residents now number 400, and the average age is lower. There has been a colossal effort. There is a young couple where the wife is the nurse for all those Greek senior citizens. She runs around from dawn to dusk and has two kids of her own.”
Papademetriou is encouraged that many hundreds of youths visited Imvros last summer, even for a month, and she underlines that the island’s Greeks are talking to Turkish authorities for the first time.
Mercan was in Athens in mid-February and met with Papademetriou and the president of the Imvriots association, Paris Asanakis. She said Mercan supports the return to Greek owners of lands that were never used for the purpose for which they were expropriated.
The Athens News contacted Mercan and asked what progress there has been since the Gross report. He said he has not been following the issue and that he would look into it. He did not reply to subsequent calls from the Athens News.
The Gross report predicted that the cadastral process will “likely lead to the loss of the vast majority of properties of the current and former Greek inhabitants”.
But almost none of the report’s recommendations have been implemented, among them returning buildings seized from Greek religious foundations or municipalities; returning properties not used for the purpose for which they were expropriated; opening ship transport links between Imvros and Tenedos, and between these islands and Greece; returning Turkish citizenship to those who lost it in the past and to their descendants; and allowing Greeks to re-establish a school or, if there are not enough students, to teach Greek in Turkish schools.
Turkey has said it will open a school if 10 children show up, but hardly any young Greek Imvriots will settle on the island.
Refusing to give up
TALK ABOUT A PARADOX IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH"declared the whole island" of imvros "an archaeological site"while not respecting the greeks who lived on there for 1000s of years lololol too bad treaty of lausanne handed those 2 greek islands imvros and tenedos with its greeks to the newly formed country turkey in 1923 because of the oil straits
Tc In London

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#7
Mar 1, 2010
 

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Whats a matter now

The Turks are using the same tactics the Greek Cypriots used in Cyprus on The Tc

what goes round comes round

so tell Greece to come and help you malakas out

i guess you cant depend on big mama and shes only a few miles away
PARADOX

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#8
Mar 1, 2010
 

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Tc In London wrote:
Whats a matter now
The Turks are using the same tactics the Greek Cypriots used in Cyprus on The Tc
what goes round comes round
so tell Greece to come and help you malakas out
i guess you cant depend on big mama and shes only a few miles away
what paradox comments above.......120000 tc on cyprus before turkish invasion 50000 tc after turkish invasion.........stop talking nonsense..........
Tc In London

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#9
Mar 1, 2010
 
PARADOX wrote:
<quoted text>what paradox comments above.......120000 tc on cyprus before turkish invasion 50000 tc after turkish invasion.........stop talking nonsense..........
can you break that down in plain english
instead of giberish
GIBERISH

Collierville, TN

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#10
Mar 1, 2010
 
Tc In London wrote:
<quoted text>
can you break that down in plain english
instead of giberish
you should know you are a master(balck belt 10 th dan) of malaka giberish..........
Democracy United States

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#11
Mar 1, 2010
 
One of the reasons on why Turkey invades greek airspace is to scare the greek inhabitants away, make them move away.
WHYISHE

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#13
Mar 1, 2010
 
GreekAustralian wrote:
<quoted text>
Do you realise everytime you make a new post, the rest of the Greeks on here cringe!! You are an utter moron!! You make no sense at all...How old are you little boy??
WHY IS HE A moron.......those jets flying over greek airspace and islands do scare the people..........but not this lady she never left her greekisland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_of_Ro
Democracy United States

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#15
Mar 1, 2010
 
GreekAustralian wrote:
<quoted text>
Do you realise everytime you make a new post, the rest of the Greeks on here cringe!! You are an utter moron!! You make no sense at all...How old are you little boy??
How are you able to speak for the greeks? I don't get it.
Democracy United States

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#16
Mar 1, 2010
 
GreekAustralian wrote:
<quoted text>
I've read about that lady before!! She is part of Greek folklore, except sh is real!! Here in Aus, a lot of Greeks are from Kastolorizo..They are amongst the wealthiest Greeks in the country..many of them are now 4th and 5th generation!!
Democracy United States is an idiot!! He posts the strangest things at the weirdest times..it's like he is smoking dope...totally random!! I know all about Turkey invading Greek airspace!!
It's ok. I'll explain it to you since you always need an explanation. One of the things that was said about Imvros was about the greek population dwindling. And I mentioned about the Turkish losers always invading greek airspace where one of their objectives are to scare the greek population on the islands.
Tc In London

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#17
Mar 2, 2010
 
Democracy United States wrote:
<quoted text>
It's ok. I'll explain it to you since you always need an explanation. One of the things that was said about Imvros was about the greek population dwindling. And I mentioned about the Turkish losers always invading greek airspace where one of their objectives are to scare the greek population on the islands.
RE STUPID MALAKA FLYING AIRSPACE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IMROS

AS IMROS IS PART OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY

THE PROBLEM HERE IS THAT GREEK ISLANDERS ARE LEAVING BECAUSE LIKE THE TC IN CYPRUS THEY DIDNT SEE ANY FUTURE

AND I WOULD BE THE FIRST TO AGREE ITS WRONG I AM FOR ALL THE INHABITANTS OF IMROS TO GO AND LIVE ON THERE ISLAND AND IT IS WRONG OF TURKEY IN EXPLOITING THESE PEOPLE JUST LIKE GREEK CYPRIOTS DONE IN CYPRUS TO TC

BuT WHILE THERE IS BAD AIR BETWEEN Greeks and Turks this will happen

so instead of wishing for wars and shit look at making good relations with your neighbour as he is going to be there all the time
Tc In London

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#19
Mar 2, 2010
 
GreekAustralian wrote:
<quoted text>
Good Post!! U are still a prick though!!
but you must agree i am a nice prick

this is what all the women told me

:0)
NICEPR

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Mar 2, 2010
 

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Tc In London wrote:
<quoted text>
but you must agree i am a nice prick
this is what all the women told me
:0)
lololol--------so you the needle in the haystack
Blackadder

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#22
Mar 5, 2010
 
Struggling for basic rights on Imvros

IN THE LAST few years Greek natives from the island of Imvros, part of Turkey, have been returning in large numbers for visits to their northern Aegean homeland.

Putting aside a half century of persecution in what was perhaps the most sophisticated of Turkey’s 20th-century schemes to evict its minorities, an estimated 2,500 Greek Imvriots now return to their island each summer, says Paris Asanakis, president of the Imvriots Association of Athens.

Up until the 1960s, Greek residents on the island represented the overwhelming majority before their numbers declined dramatically. Now, for the first time in decades, their numbers have begun to rise.

The older, mostly less affluent Greek Imvriots who live there at least half the year have gone from 279 in 2005 to 400 today.

Opportunity knocks

“Yes, historically, a systematic programme to wipe out the Greek minority of Imvros was put in effect,” Asanakis told the Athens News.“But right now we should take advantage of opportunities to reclaim what belongs to us.”

In the 1927 census, there were 6,555 ethnic Greeks and 157 ethnic Turks living on Imvros, but the Greek population plummeted to just 300 by the 1990s, and was coupled with a significant rise in Turks.

“The return of Imvriots slowly begins to create a dynamic,” Asanakis says.“A number of senior citizens are beginning to retire there, some for six months a year, others more.”

Asanakis said that a few Imvriots, under the age of 50, have even returned to do business. One drives a taxi, another has taken up animal husbandry, while a third is a beekeeper.

But where there are opportunities there are also obstacles, including the Turkish authorities’ refusal to open the island’s airport or establish ferry connections between Imvros and the nearby Greek island of Limnos.

Few have done more than Asanakis to put Imvros on the European human rights map. His accomplishments include having convinced New Democracy MP Elsa Papademetriou to take up the issue in the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly (see sidebar).

Seized lands

But there has been little progress in the last two years. The Turkish state, in the context of its current registration of lands in a cadastre, has seized almost all the lands belonging to Greeks that it had not expropriated after 1964.

“Because most Greeks have left, authorities record the land. For properties where owners don’t show up to produce titles or to prove they used the land, it is seized by the state,” Asanakis says.“This is the second big expropriation on Imvros. Around each village a few tracts go to private owners, but most go to the state. Ninety-two percent of the land went to the state and 4,900 hectares was seized last year alone.”

Asanakis calls it an “indirect expropriation, with absolutely no compensation
. The state,” he adds,“says ‘Come prove the land is yours, or the state gets it’. Only 8 percent managed.”

Imvriots, who number around 20,000 worldwide, including mixed marriages, did better in saving many of their homes by securing title, Asanakis adds.

“The more we make our presence felt, the more difficult it is for them to carry out their plan. In 1994, they expected to seize all the land with summary procedures,” he says.
Blackadder

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#23
Mar 5, 2010
 
Not ‘crazy’
“In the 1990s, some of us Imvriots - whom the others considered crazy - started going back and renovating our homes. Now, about 550 homes have been renovated, mostly in Shinoudi, a huge village that comprises nearly half the island. But since there were about 2,000 homes there, it still seems like a ghost village,” Asanakis says.
In the last several years, the Greeks host a cultural August, and the 2,500 visitors are a major boost to the island’s economy. That helps keep relations between Greeks and Turks on good terms. Of the older, permanent residents, who work in animal husbandry, the theft of their livestock by local Turks remains the biggest problem.
Asanakis is glad that Imvriots have been able to partly reverse the tide of Turkey’s plan to effectively bring about their extinction on the island.
“There are youths of 15-25 that get depressed if they don’t visit the island once a year. You don’t have that in Istanbul, where the 2,000 Greeks are a drop in the ocean. In the Imvros village of Agridia, 30 Greeks live there year round, with no Turks in the village. That is a different story. It remains to be seen if those returning are enough to replace those dying out.”
The great Turkish land grab
THE MYRIAD administrative and judicial hurdles which Greeks must overcome to prove title to their land on Imvros, after being forced to flee the island, make it nearly impossible to claim even those properties that were not lost in the massive expropriations of the 1960s.
One of the biggest obstacles to date has been a law that forbids non-Turkish citizens from inheriting property in Turkey. However, that statute was turned on its head when the European Court of Human Rights last September ruled that brothers Ioannis and Evangelos Fokas, both Greek citizens, are entitled to inherit property in Turkey.
Despite the landmark ruling, the relevant Turkish law has yet to be changed.
First-hand
The Athens News spoke to an Imvriot Greek with Turkish citizenship who requested anonymity and will be called Pavlos. As an ethnic Greek, even Pavlos’ citizenship has not helped him claim family lands, illustrating just how difficult it can be. He has now petitioned the European Court of Human Rights in seven cases involving dozens of properties.
Out of more than 100 parcels of real estate belonging to his family, he was able to successfully register about 20 percent, but lost most court cases on appeal.
“The whole system was rigged to give title to the Turkish state,” Pavlos says.“It was a charade. It was like a Kafka novel.”
He notes that renting land to a Turkish villager was not accepted as proof of ownership. Even the fact that the names of ancestors who owned the property did not match the surname of current owners was used by judges to reject Pavlos’ title, he says.
The key obstacle, he says, was the flawed procedures to register lands followed in creating the cadastre, beginning in the mid-1990s.
The 1930s land titles presented to the cadastre officials were not accepted as definitive proof of ownership, nor were earlier Ottoman titles and sales contracts in other cases.
Proof
The requirement of having to produce elderly witnesses to establish one’s use of the land many years after the owners were forced to leave was another key problem.
The proof that the family used the property for over 20 years at some point was not enough. Pavlos says he had to prove that he personally used the property over the immediate past 20 years, agriculturally or commercially. Here, even the fact that tax was constantly paid was not sufficient proof.
Complicating matters further, the Turkish state in 2004 declared the whole of Imvros an archaeological site. Pavlos says he was denied title to “at least 10 properties” because they were labelled archaeological sites.
Blackadder

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#24
Mar 5, 2010
 
When the EU put Imvros and [the island of] Tenedos in Turkey’s EU accession report, Ankara miraculously declared the whole island an archaeological site. That was a far better, more clinical excuse for the expropriation,” says Pavlos, noting that a later law differentiating the archaeological importance of sites had no practical impact.
Gross’ report yielded few results
THE MOST striking thing about Swiss Socialist MP Andreas Gross’ 2008 report on the Greeks of Imvros is not the way it chronicles how various Turkish governments trampled on the islanders’ human rights and pushed them to leave.
What is most baffling is that successive Greek governments did so little to try and stop the abuse.
Former Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis and a litany of foreign ministers, beginning with George Papandreou, and other cabinet members have visited Turkey in the last decade. But not one has dared to set foot on Imvros and Tenedos to visit an indigenous Greek population to which history has been unkind.
New Democracy MP Elsa Papademetriou was a rare exception for Greek politicians. As head of the Greek delegation to the Council of Europe in 2005, she tabled a resolution on the Imvros issue for the first time, signed by MPs from many countries.
“The Turks tried hard to vote it down. I proposed that my Turkish counterpart, Murat Mercan (of the ruling AKP), and I undertake a fact-finding mission to the island,” Papademetriou told the Athens News.“Let us go together and solve a small-scale problem, involving Turkish citizens of Greek descent.”
Progress
“Something very serious was achieved,” she said.“The 279 Greek residents now number 400, and the average age is lower. There has been a colossal effort. There is a young couple where the wife is the nurse for all those Greek senior citizens. She runs around from dawn to dusk and has two kids of her own.”
Papademetriou is encouraged that many hundreds of youths visited Imvros last summer, even for a month, and she underlines that the island’s Greeks are talking to Turkish authorities for the first time.
Mercan was in Athens in mid-February and met with Papademetriou and the president of the Imvriots association, Paris Asanakis. She said Mercan supports the return to Greek owners of lands that were never used for the purpose for which they were expropriated.
The Athens News contacted Mercan and asked what progress there has been since the Gross report. He said he has not been following the issue and that he would look into it. He did not reply to subsequent calls from the Athens News.
The Gross report predicted that the cadastral process will “likely lead to the loss of the vast majority of properties of the current and former Greek inhabitants”.
But almost none of the report’s recommendations have been implemented, among them returning buildings seized from Greek religious foundations or municipalities; returning properties not used for the purpose for which they were expropriated; opening ship transport links between Imvros and Tenedos, and between these islands and Greece; returning Turkish citizenship to those who lost it in the past and to their descendants; and allowing Greeks to re-establish a school or, if there are not enough students, to teach Greek in Turkish schools.
Turkey has said it will open a school if 10 children show up, but hardly any young Greek Imvriots will settle on the island.
Refusing to give up
Still, there are those Greeks who keep hope alive on Imvros, like 69-year-old Nikos Doldouris, who does it with music. A self-made businessman who made his fortune in Australia, Doldouris has managed to bring great musicians to Imvros for concerts, beginning with Ross Daily in 1994 and followed in the ensuing years by Yiorgos Dalaras, Dimitra Galani and Domna Samiou.
Doldouris is now working hard with Turkish authorities to open a ferry link between Imvros and Tenedos and the Greek island of Limnos, which he says the Turkish transport ministry supports.

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