Cyprus Issue

Turkish Colonisation

Since the Turkish invasion of 1974 and occupation of 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey has maintained a policy of bringing in thousands of Anatolian colonists to settle in the occupied area, thus changing the demographic character of the island. Occupation, colonisation and expulsion of the local Greek Cypriot population are all part of Turkey's long-standing expansionist policy. Turkey's obvious aim is to ssimilate the part of Cyprus it occupies and to ultimately annex it.

Demographic analysis and examination of statistical data on arrivals and departures of Turkish Cypriots as well as Turks from Turkey clearly show widespread emigration of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots, who are systematically replaced by an even greater number of mainland Turkish colonists. According to statistical evidence, press reports and statements by Turkish Cypriot politicians, Turkish Cypriots are forced to emigrate, as a result of unemployment, economic, social and moral degradation and the pressures from Turkish colonists who are given undue privileges. It is estimated that 55.000 Turkish Cypriots emigrated, a figure which represents about a third of all Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots themselves have become a minority in the occupied area, victims of the colonisation policy of their leadership.

The number of colonists from Turkey is estimated to be about 115.000 (2001 figures), a number often quoted by Turkish Cypriot politicians and published in the local Turkish Cypriot press. The Turkish colonists together with the 35.000 Turkish occupation troops on the island far outnumber the Turkish Cypriots.

Turkey's colonisation policy aims at:

- Altering the demographic structure of Cyprus so that the Turkish-speaking population outnumbers the Greek Cypriots (Turkish Cypriots constituted 18% of the population before the Turkish invasion). Long-term, this would "justify" inordinate claims of the Turkish side at the negotiating table regarding territorial arrangements and political power in a final settlement of the Cyprus problem.

- Exercising control over political life in the occupied area. To this effect the colonists are given "citizenship", Greek Cypriot properties, "voting rights" and work permits. They have been organised in two political parties, the Motherland Party which has merged with the National Unity Party and the Rebirth Party which has merged with the Democratic Party. Both these support the illegal occupying regime and keep it in power. According to the Turkish Cypriot daily «Ávrupa» ( 26.3.2001 ) 34.000 title deeds have been given to settlers from Ôurkey since 1974. This land is more than half of Northern Cyprus, the reporter says.

In 1991 the Spanish parliamentarian Alfons Cuco investigated the problem of colonists on behalf of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography of the Council of Europe, following representations by the Cyprus government and the Turkish Cypriot opposition. Mr. Cuco's report concluded that the demographic composition of Cyprus is being radically altered as a result of the settlement of thousands of foreigners brought in from Turkey. He describes the establishment of Turkish colonists as an undisputed fact and clearly states that their presence constitutes an additional obstacle to a peaceful negotiated solution of the Cyprus problem.

Mr. Cuco also referred to the serious problem caused by "naturalisation" of the settlers and the fact that it has been the deliberate policy of the Turkish Cypriot "authorities" "to give the Turkish nationals Cypriot nationality". He also added that "the opposition parties' allegations about waves of naturalisation prior to each 'election', are probably based on fact" and that the number of colonists justifies their concern that their community is losing its identity and becoming a minority in the occupied area.

Mr Cuco%26rsquo;s findings were affirmed by the Rapporteur of the Committee of Immigration and Demography of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Finnish Deputy, Mr Jaakko Laakso who visited Cyprus on 7-9 March, 2001. At a session of the afore-mentioned Committee on 26 June 2001, Mr Laakso stated that contrary to the appeal made in the Cuco Report, the colonisation of the occupied areas of Cyprus was continuous and as a result, the settlers constitute the majority of the population whereas the Turkish Cypriots are massively immigrating.

Turkey's policy of colonisation of Cyprus is contrary to the Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus as well as the Geneva Conventions Protocol of 1977, which considers it a war crime. This explains the reluctance of the Turkish Cypriot leadership to admit to the existence of colonists and their attempt to present them as "seasonal workers" or Turkish Cypriot emigrants who are now returning.

The presence of colonists in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus is in direct violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. This policy has been condemned in various resolutions of the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and other international organisations. It is also against the wishes of the Turkish Cypriots themselves.

Mr Cuco%26rsquo;s findings have been confirmed very recently by the Rapporteur of the Committee of Migration, Refugees and Demography of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mr Jaako Laakso, who visited Cyprus 0n 7-9 March, 2001.

Addressing a meeting of the Committee on 26 June 2001, Mr Laakso pointed out that, in opposition to the Cuco Report, the colonisation of the occupied part of Cyprus has been continued . As a result of this the Turkish settlers have become the majority, whereas Turkish Cypriots have been emigrating in mass.

The colonisation of the occupied part of Cyprus has resulted in distortion of the demographics of the area, the Rapporteur of the Committee of Migration, Refugees and Demography of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mr Jaako Laakso, during a recent meeting of the committee in Strasbourg.

Mr Laakso, who was reporting on a recent visit to Cyprus, added that this was in opposition to the Cuco Report and the relevant UN resolutions and added that it would be useful if he were to pay a fact-finding visit to Turkey and the occupied part of Cyprus.

Entry Date 10/8/2001