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There appear to be political intentions behind the recent arrest of Simon Aykut

Imagine this: you're traveling around Cyprus, minding your own business and contributing to the local economy. Suddenly one evening, you're arrested on what appears to be a trumped-up charge. You're detained for days, denied proper medical care, and your life is turned upside down with no end in sight. This nightmare scenario has become a reality for Simon Aykut, a director of the Afik Group, which is run by his son Jack Afik, a property developer in Cyprus. Many claim Aykut is nothing more than a pawn in a larger 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 example of what many are calling politically motivated allegations, the Cypriot government has targeted Aykut under the guise of criminal prosecution. However, this arrest appears to many to be less about justice and more about a calculated geopolitical strategy to suppress Turkish Cypriot interests and stop investment in Northern Cyprus. Aykut, an innocent man with a clean legal record for two decades, is now embroiled in the ongoing Cyprus conflict, an ongoing 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 buying and developing land in Northern Cyprus – an activity that thousands of landowners and developers in Northern Cyprus have been doing for 50 years. These accusations are based on a Greek Cypriot law that has not been enforced for over 15 years – a “dead letter” that was suddenly revived for political reasons. In the past, this law has never been applied in similar cases, and Aykut and his company have operated for 20 years without any legal problems or complaints. This abrupt resurrection of the laws appears to many as a blatant attempt by the Cypriot government to put pressure on the Turkish Cypriot community and restrict economic development in the north.

The Cyprus problem, rooted in ethnic tensions and political ideologies, has remained unresolved since the Turkish invasion in 1974 that led to the occupation of the northern third of the island. Despite numerous international efforts to find a peaceful solution, only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Against this backdrop, Aykut's arrest is deeply disturbing 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 position in international negotiations to resolve the problem for Cyprus and the TRNC.

The Cypriot government's agenda is clear: stop investment in the Turkish-controlled areas of Northern Cyprus. By persuading refugees to report to the police rather than using the established compensation mechanisms for property disputes, the government may actually be manipulating the legal system to achieve its political goals. This selective enforcement reveals a discriminatory approach, as Turkish Cypriot refugees are denied use of or access to their properties despite being issued with title deeds. The double standards and lack of reciprocity in dealing with property rights between the two communities are glaringly obvious.

An anonymous Cypriot businessman, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, expressed deep concern about the consequences of Aykut's arrest.. “This is frightening and deeply worrying for anyone doing business in Cyprus. he said. “When the government can arbitrarily revive old, unenforced laws to target individuals and companies, it is a red flag for all investors. It undermines trust in the legal system and creates a climate of unpredictability and fear. He added, The government's actions have created incentives for refugees to bypass existing compensation mechanisms and instead report to the police, thus using reporting as a political tool and further destabilising the region.

This fear is not unfounded. The Republic of Cyprus' land registry records are notoriously unreliable and incomplete, a consequence of the island's division and the lack of original records. This inaccuracy makes it difficult to confirm the true owners, 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 underscoring the politically motivated nature of his arrest.

Aykut's arrest has a significant impact on the business environment in Cyprus. The sudden enforcement of previously unenforced laws creates an unstable legal climate that is detrimental to business activity and investment. Legal stability and predictability are critical for companies to operate effectively and make long-term investments. Aykut and the Afik Group, who have made significant contributions to the local economy, are now being used as scapegoats to achieve political goals. Such actions discourage both local and international companies from investing in Cyprus and harm the country's economic prospects.

The Cypriot business community seems appalled by this, but beyond that, one has to wonder whether the Cypriot government has considered the impact this could have on its economy. This case should serve as a warning to the international community and investors about the risks involved in doing business in Cyprus given the current legal and political climate.