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Republic of Cyprus
Illegal Demographic Changes

Since the Turkish invasion of 1974, Turkey has implemented a systematic policy of colonizing the occupied part of Cyprus, from which it expelled 170,000 Greek Cypriots. The main Turkish objectives in adopting this policy of colonization in the occupied part of Cyprus appear to be the following:

(1) To 
change the demographic character and to distort the population balance on the island between Turks and Greeks of the island, in order to justify the claims of the Turkish side regarding the territorial and constitutional aspects of the Cyprus Problem.

(2) To 
ethnically cleanse the occupied area and massively transfer mainland Turks. This policy, combined with the expulsion of the Greek Cypriot inhabitants of the area, the destruction of cultural heritage and illegal change of all the geographical names of the occupied part of Cyprus, aimed at erasing all that was Greek and Christian for centuries and “turkifying” the area.

(3) To 
shift the balance of political power in the occupied part of Cyprus and influence elections (Note 1), in order to ensure that the Turkish Cypriot leadership is kept in line with the policy of the Turkish Government. To exercise control over political life in the occupied area. To that effect, the colonists have been given "citizenship", Greek Cypriot properties, "voting rights" and work permits. They have been organised in political parties, the main ones of which are the “Nationalist Justice Party” and the “National Revival Party”. They also participate in other political parties and play an important role in political life. 

(4) To 
control and manipulate the political will of the Turkish Cypriots (even in the post-solution era) 

(5) To 
buttress Turkey’s military presence on the island. To provide additional trained reserves for the Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus.

(6) To 
prejudice a just settlement of the Cyprus problem by creating illegal faits accomplis which could prove practically difficult to reverse

Turkey's obvious aim is to assimilate the part of Cyprus it occupies and to ultimately annex it.

In an interview to the Turkish Cypriot daily “
VATAN” (24/10/05) Mehmet Ali Talat admits the policy of colonization. He said that, “there were times when ‘citizenship of the TRNC’ had been given in restaurants. There are people who never came to Cyprus, yet they were given ‘citizenship’.”

According to reports confirmed in both the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot press, settlers either come from the Turkish mainland or are of Turkish origin (such as the Turkish speaking Bulgarians). 

The colonization of the occupied area infringes upon the property rights of the displaced Greek Cypriots, whose properties are used to house the settlers. 
According to the Turkish Cypriot daily “ΑVRUPA” (26.3.2001), 34.000 title deeds have been given to settlers from Turkey since 1974. This land is more than half of northern Cyprus, the report says.

The constant influx into the occupied area of settlers from mainland Turkey takes place in parallel with a continuous outflow of indigenous Turkish Cypriots 
(Note 2), who, in 1974, totalled about 118,000, that is, about 18% of Cyprus’ population. A natural population increase since 1974 would have brought the Turkish Cypriots to 156,000 (end of 2004). 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 over 57.000 Turkish Cypriots have already emigrated (until the end of 2004), 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 Turkey.

Today, Turkish settlers (estimated at upwards of 160,000 
(Note 3)) far outnumber Turkish Cypriots (estimated at 88,100 (Note 4)), who also have lower rates of reproduction compared to the mainland settlers. In addition, Turkish troops stationed in the occupied area are accounted upwards of 43,000. That is, there are at least 200,000 non-Turkish Cypriots, or, more than two Turks for every Turkish Cypriot.

On 12 October 2004, as part of Turkey’s latest attempt to consolidate the already extremely large number of settlers in Cyprus, it was announced that a “protocol” had been signed between Turkey and its subordinate local administration, the so-called “Τurkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”. The “protocol” established that all Turkish nationals present and employed in the Turkish-occupied area without the “permission” of the “ΤRΝC” would speedily receive residence” and/or “work permits” so long as they would have entered the occupied area before the date the protocol provisions entered into force, using at least their identity cards. On top of that, the Turkish government does not any more facilitate financially the resettlement of Turkish settlers, who want to, but lack the resources to return to Turkey. It is further required that the Turkish “embassy” be informed before any repatriation. The publication of the said “protocol” reinforced the inundation of the Turkish-occupied north with an
extra 40,000 Turks in a single year.

Turkish Cypriot daily 
“HALKIN SESI” (30/12/05) reports that 44,267 persons were given “work permits” in the period between December 2004 and November 2005, 37,241 grants were given to “first time applicants.” The newspaper publishes the following table:

Table of “work permits” issued in the years 2000-2005:

YearTotalFirst issueRenewal

A manifestation of the colonization policy is the radical increase in the number of “registered voters.” Since 1976 (first voting procedure after the Turkish invasion and occupation of part of the island and the expulsion of the Greek Cypriot population from the occupied area), the number of “registered voters” has almost doubled:

2005 (Feb)147,249
2005 (Apr)147,823
2006 (May)151,635

Out of the 50 so-called “members of parliament,” two are settlers. Though this number is not representative of the voting power of the settlers, it is indicative of their ability to affect elections.

Out of 28 so-called “mayors” in the occupied areas, 5 are settlers (July 2006).

One of the major reasons for the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan Plan was that the Plan would have legitimized the continued presence of the vast majority of the Turkish settlers and included provisions that would have allowed the continued influx of Turkish nationals into Cyprus. 

The 1960 Constitution 

Turkey’s policy of colonization in Cyprus is contrary to the 1960 Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, signed by the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus. Annex D to the Treaty governs Cyprus’ citizenship and makes it impossible and unlawful for either Community to upset the demographic balance by bringing in large numbers of ethnic Turks or Greeks and contend that they were of Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot descent and therefore entitled to come to Cyprus. Section 4, paragraph. 7, imposes quotas regarding the granting of citizenship to persons who had emigrated to Greece, Turkey or the British Commonwealth having before 1955 been resident in Cyprus, or who were descendants of Ottoman subjects resident in Cyprus in 1914.

Settlers and international law

The colonization policy is contrary to international law. Article 49 (6) of the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War prohibits the transfer by an occupying power of its own civilian population in the area it occupies. It 
stipulates that the “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

The Commentary on Article 49(6) clarifies that the provision is intended to prohibit the demographic manipulation by an occupying power that either actively transfers its own population into the occupied territory or allows them to settle there voluntarily. 

In its Advisory Opinion in 
The Wall Case of July 9th 2004, the International court of Justice resolved that Article 49(6) prohibits not only forced transfers “but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory” (par. 120).

Violation of Article 49 constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and carries penal sanction (Art.146, 147). It is considered a war crime.

Article 85 (4)(a) of the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions considers the transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies as being a “grave breach” of the Convention.

Article 1 Common to the four Geneva Conventions and Art.86 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions 1977, impose an obligation upon all High Contracting parties to implement its provisions.

Paragraphs 158-9 of the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion in 
The Wall Case of July 9th 2004 provides that, allContracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions are under a legal obligation to ensure compliance by the occupying power, (in the case of Cyprus, the occupying power is Turkey), with international humanitarian law as embodied in the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.

Article 7 (1) (d) defines deportation or forcible transfer of population as a “
crime against humanity”, whereby "Deportation or forcible transfer of population" means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law;

Article 8 (2) (b) (viii) of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court lists the “transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” as a 
“war crime”.

United Nations Resolutions

In Resolutions 33/15 (1978), 24/30 (1979), 37/253 (1983) et. al. the United Nations General Assembly deplored “all unilateral actions that change the demographic structure of Cyprus.”

In its Resolution 4 (XXXII) (27/2/76) the Commission of Human Rights calls on parties to refrain from unilateral acts to change the demographic structure of Cyprus and in resolution 1987/50 (11.3.1987) the Commission on Human Rights express concern for the influx of settlers and calls for respect for the rights and freedoms of the population of Cyprus.

The presence of the settlers affects implementation of the right of the refugees to return to their homes contrary to numerous Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions.

Council of Europe

The fact that the occupied part of Cyprus has been subjected to systematic settlement from Turkey has been reported on twice by the Council of Europe’s Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, first in 1992 (Rapporteur: Alfons Cuco, Spain) and in 2003 (Rapporteur: Jaakko Laakso, Finland). 

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.

The report 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 to 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.

Cuco’s report led to the adoption of Recommendation 1197 (1992/7/10/92) by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Recommendation includes the conclusion that:
  • “since natural rates of increase of population are comparable in both parts of the island, the population growth in the north must have been due to a substantial influx of migrants.”
  • “The aim of the Turkish Cypriot Administration’s policy regarding the Turkish migrants has been to encourage their permanent settlement in the island. Migrants are granted housing, land or properties on special terms. However, the most important has been to allow them to acquire Cypriot nationality and hence political rights.”
  • “The presence and naturalization of the Turkish migrants, who once established on the island become settlers, constitute an additional obstacle to a peaceful negotiated solution of the Cypriot conflict.”

    "In light of the above, the Assembly recommends, among other, that the Committee of Ministers instruct the European Population Committee to conduct a census of the island’s population.”

    The Council of Europe’s Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography revisited the issue of settlers a decade later, when a Finnish Deputy, Jaakko Laakso, produced a relevant 
    Report (2 May 2003), after visiting Cyprus twice (5-12 March, 2001 and 28-30 October 2002).

    Upon submission of the Laakso Report, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved with an overwhelming majority (68 votes in favour, 15 against and 2 abstentions) a
     Recommendation (1608/24/6/2003) which states inter alia the following:
  • “It is a well-established fact that the demographic structure of the island has been continuously modified since the de factopartition of the island in 1974 as a result of the deliberate policies of the Turkish Cypriot administration and Turkey. Despite the lack of consensus on the exact figures, all parties concerned admit that Turkish nationals have been systematically arriving in the northern part of the island. According to reliable estimates, their number currently amounts to 115 000.

    The settlers come mainly from the region of Anatolia, one of the less developed regions in Turkey. Their customs and traditions differ in a significant way from those in Cyprus. These differences are the main reason for the tensions and dissatisfaction of the indigenous Turkish Cypriot population who tend to view them as a foreign element.
  • In particular, the Assembly expresses its concern at the continuous outflow of the indigenous Turkish Cypriot population from the northern part. Their number decreased from 118,000 in 1974 to an estimated 87,600 in 2001. In consequence, the settlers outnumber the indigenous Turkish Cypriot population in the northern part of the island.
  • In the light of the information available, the Assembly cannot accept the claims that the majority of arriving Turkish nationals are seasonal workers or former inhabitants who had left the island before 1974. Therefore it condemns the policy of naturalisation designed to encourage new arrivals and introduced by the Turkish Cypriot administration with full support of the Government of Turkey.
  • The Assembly is convinced that the presence of the settlers constitutes a process of hidden colonisation and an additional and important obstacle to a peaceful negotiated solution of the Cyprus problem.”

    In conclusion, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommends, inter alia, that the Committee of Ministers:
  • “Instruct the European Population Committee (CAHP) to conduct a population census of the whole island, in co-operation with the authorities concerned, in order to replace estimates with reliable data;”
  • “Call on Turkey, as well as its Turkish Cypriot subordinate local administration in northern Cyprus, to stop the process of colonisation by Turkish settlers;”
  • “Call on Turkey to comply with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights concerning refugees’ right to property in the occupied part of Cyprus.”
  • “Promote the idea of the creation, with a contribution from the international community, of a Fund which would ensure the financing of possible voluntary returns of the Turkish settlers to Turkey.”

    As with Recommendation 1197 (1992), Recommendation 1608 has been ignored by Turkey.

    In their report on Local Democracy in Cyprus [CPL (12) 8 Part II] to the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Council of Europe (10 Nov. 2005), Rapporteurs Dr Ian Micallef (Malta) and Alan Lloyd (UK), mention that: 
    “13. …A substantial number of settlers from mainland Turkey have been transferred to the occupied area since 1974 and settled in towns and villages from where Greek Cypriot displaced persons had been forced to flee….some of the local representatives in the area which is not under the control of the government originate from this category of the population which complicates the issue considerably. Currently, from the local representatives of the 28 “municipalities” in that area six are Turkish settlers, heading the municipalities which were predominantly inhabited by Greek Cypriots prior to 1974…”

    The recent exercise of the illegal regime to count the number of people present in the occupied area, does not constitute a census in the context of the Resolutions of the Council of Europe. The exercise is described in the Turkish Cypriot daily
    VOLKAN (03.05.06) as “fiasco,” whose aim was to register the illegal Turkish settlers in the occupied part of Cyprus. 

    The so-called “census,” which has not been observed by international organizations, because of the illegality of the regime that conducted it, is greatly unreliable. The Turkish Cypriot press publishes the admission of Mr Talat that there were technical problems during the census, while the Turkish Cypriot press refers to a great number of people not accounted, “mainly in occupied Nicosia and Famagusta 
    (Note 5).”

    As for the preliminary results of the “census” published so far in the press, they are indicative of the numbers estimated by the government of the Republic of Cyprus as to the number of settlers. An increase of population by 31.7% in less than 10 years is considered unnatural, taking into account the rate of increase of the Turkish Cypriots and it is obvious that the increase is the result of the influx of population from outside the occupied area.

    De facto population 30/4/06
    Census held on 
    % increase since 15/12/1995
    Voters registered for the 27/6/06 “elections”
    Voters in 17/04/05 “elections”

    Serhat Incirli in his column “Letter from London” in the Turkish Cypriot daily 
    AFRIKA (03.05.06) under the title “Do not consider me in the census” states that “the demographic structure in north Cyprus has been violated. The demographic structure has been knowingly and deliberately changed. The method is wrong. The method is a war crime, an injustice and against the international law.”


    Noting that the census was conducted with “the most primitive method in the world”, AFRIKA describes it as a “fiasco” and writes: “Many citizens waited in vain for the census officers at their houses. The citizens complied with the curfew; the state did not comply with the census”. 

    Under the title “The census could not be completed”, HALKIN SESI notes that “the population and housing census was not conducted in a reliable manner”. 

    Under the title “We waited and you did not come”, VATAN notes that many people said they had not be counted at the census, which in some areas continued after 18.00 when the curfew ended.

    ORTAM refers to the issue under the title “We have not been counted!” According to information acquired by the paper, the people who have not been counted are mainly in occupied Nicosia and Famagusta. 

    Under the title “Have you been counted?” CUMHURIYET writes that “the warnings have unfortunately proved to be right” and that the census is in danger “because of some technical mistakes”. 


    1. Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (22.03.06) reports that Mr. Mehmet Cakici, the General Secretary of the Peace and Democracy Movement (BDH) stated that because of the transfer of population which was carried out for years without inspection, the social-demographic structure of the Turkish Cypriot “people” is changing and noted that because of this, the special characteristics of the Turkish Cypriots are disputable. He said that in the past thousands of persons became citizens (of the “TRNC”) in one day for the sake of political benefits and added that the result of this policy is that the Turkish Cypriots came face to face with the danger of falling into a minority status. He also stated that some persons put their political interest above the benefits of the Turkish Cypriots and that, “it is a treachery what they did to the Turkish Cypriots”.

    2. Now made easier by their acquisition of EU citizenship and the access this provides to 24 other EU Member States.

    3. The figure includes the 2004 wave of arrivals.

    4. 2004 estimate—the number has, in all probability, since decreased through further emigration. Note that, the difference between the number of projected Turkish Cypriot natural population increase and the estimate of population of Turkish Cypriots currently in the occupied area, is the natural population increase of the Turkish Cypriots who have emigrated over the years.

    5. Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS (01.05.06) notes that many people have complained that the “officers”, who were conducting the "census", did not visit their houses.

    October, 2006

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