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Cyprus Crisis: Political Agendas Seem to be Behind The Recent Arrest of Simon Aykut

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Picture this: you’re traveling in Cyprus, minding your own business, and contributing to the local economy. Suddenly, one evening, you’re arrested on what seem like trumped-up charges. You are detained for days, denied proper medical care, and your life is upended with no end in sight. This nightmare scenario has become the reality for Simon Aykut, a director of Afik Group, which is run by his son Jack Afik, a property developer in Cyprus. Many are claiming that Aykut is nothing but a pawn in a broader political game that threatens to destabilize the region and undermine investor confidence, and business leaders we spoke to have expressed serious concerns about the situation.

In a chilling display of what many are calling politically motivated charges, the Cypriot government has targeted Aykut under the guise of legal enforcement. This arrest, however, seems to many to be less about justice and more about a calculated geopolitical strategy to suppress Turkish Cypriot interests and halt investments in Northern Cyprus. Aykut, an innocent man with a clean legal record spanning two decades, is now ensnared in the ongoing Cyprus conflict, an enduring geopolitical struggle between the Greek Cypriot community in the south and the Turkish Cypriot community in the north.

Aykut and Afik Group are accused of purchasing lands in Northern Cyprus and developing them—an activity that has been commonly done by thousands of landowners and developers in Northern Cyprus for the past 50 years. These accusations are based on a Greek Cypriot law that has not been enforced for over 15 years—a “dead letter” law suddenly revived to serve political ends. Historically, this law has seen no application in similar cases, and Aykut, along with his company, has operated without any legal issues or complaints for 20 years. This abrupt legal resurrection seems to many like a blatant attempt by the Cypriot government to apply pressure on the Turkish Cypriot community and curtail economic development in the north.

The Cyprus problem, rooted in ethnic tensions and political ideologies, has been unresolved since the 1974 Turkish invasion, which led to the occupation of the northern third of the island. Despite numerous international efforts to find a peaceful resolution, only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Against this backdrop, Aykut’s arrest is deeply troubling and appears to be influenced by broader political motives rather than genuine legal concerns. There is a natural suspicion that the Cypriot government is using this high-profile arrest to improve its starting point in international negotiations aimed at finding a solution for Cyprus and the TRNC.

The Cypriot government’s agenda is clear: stop investments in the Turkish-controlled areas of Northern Cyprus. By persuading refugees to file complaints with the police instead of using the established compensation mechanisms for property disputes, the government may in fact be manipulating the legal system to achieve its political goals. This selective enforcement reveals a discriminatory approach, as Turkish Cypriot refugees, despite being granted title deeds, are not allowed to use or access their properties. The double standards and lack of reciprocity in handling property rights between the two communities are glaringly evident.

An anonymous Cypriot businessman, who requested not to be named due to fear of retribution, expressed grave concerns about the implications of Aykut’s arrest. “This is scary and deeply concerning for anyone doing business in Cyprus,” he said. “If the government can arbitrarily revive old, unenforced laws to target individuals and businesses, it raises a red flag for all investors. It undermines trust in the legal system and creates an environment of unpredictability and fear.” He added, “The government’s actions have created incentives for refugees to bypass established compensation mechanisms and file police complaints instead, using legal complaints as a political tool, further destabilizing the region.

This fear is not unfounded. The land registry records in the Republic of Cyprus are notoriously unreliable and incomplete, a consequence of the island’s division and the absence of original records. This inaccuracy makes it difficult to confirm true ownership, and any claims based on these records should be viewed with skepticism. Yet, the Cypriot government is using these dubious records to justify its actions against Aykut, further highlighting the politically motivated nature of his arrest.

Aykut’s arrest has significant implications for the business environment in Cyprus. The sudden enforcement of previously unenforced laws creates an unstable legal climate, detrimental to business operations and investment. Legal stability and predictability are crucial for businesses to operate effectively and make long-term investments. Aykut and Afik Group, which have contributed significantly to the local economy, are now being used as scapegoats to achieve political goals. Such actions deter both local and international businesses from investing in Cyprus, harming the country’s economic prospects.

The Cyprus business community seems horrified by this, but moreover, one must wonder if the Cyprus government has considered the implications this may have on their economy. This case should serve as a warning to the international community and investors about the risks of doing business in Cyprus under its current legal and political climate.

Andreas Kyriakides is an ex-Cypriot investigative journalist with a strong commitment to social justice, human rights, and combatting corruption and governmental abuse of power. He holds a Ph.d. in Philosophy and a master’s degree in public policy. He is a highly sought-after lecturer on the topics of ethics, economic policy and modern democratic challenges.



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