Despite ruling, Turkey won't pay damages to Cyprus

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey said Tuesday it won't pay $123 million in damages to Cyprus that was ordered by Europe's top human rights court, and denounced the ruling as the biggest blow yet to peace talks for the divided island.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Monday that Turkey must pay the damages to Cyprus for its 1974 invasion and the island's subsequent division.

The ruling came as the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities are making a new effort to reunite the island.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the ruling unfair and said it put all the blame for Cyprus' division on Turkey. He said the ruling was not binding because Turkey does not legally recognize Cyprus' government.

"We believe that (the ruling) has dealt the biggest blow to the process for a comprehensive solution," Davutoglu said. "We don't consider the decision to be binding because of the grounds it is based on, its method and the fact that it takes into consideration a country that Turkey does not recognize. We don't consider it necessary to make this payment."

Turkey invaded Cyprus after a coup by supporters of union with Greece, and the island has been divided since. Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state proclaimed in northern Cyprus.

The court said the passage of time did not erase Turkey's responsibility. It said Turkey must pay damages to relatives of those missing in the operations and for Greek Cypriots "enclaved" in the Karpas peninsula in the north.

Cyprus' government has welcomed the court's decision and called on Turkey to comply immediately.

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