Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Ahmet Djavit An


The paper provides information about the factors that endanger the existence of the Turkish Cypriot community and its identity due to the continuous occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by the Turkish army. The main emphasis is on the changes that have been taking place since 1974. It starts with the demographic changes caused by the constant colonization and transfer of Turkish settlers and then deals with the consequent formation of settlers’ organizations and the increasing religious propaganda that rose especially after the AKP’s rise to power. In addition to this massive colonization process, we also observe the increase of the criminality rates, drug abuse and sex tourism.


Ottoman Rule

The origins of the Turkish Cypriot community dates back to the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1570-71. The commander of the Ottoman Army, Lala Mustafa Pasha, left a number of soldiers in Cyprus. The official Ottoman sources mention about a total of 3.779 soldiers, who later brought their families to Cyprus. An additional 1.689 families were settled in Cyprus after a firman was issued by the Sultan, realizing that the island needed human resources for labour.  In the following years, other Turkish families from Konya, Kırşehir, Çorum, Samsun, Çankırı, Eskişehir, Ankara, Darende and Uşak settled in the towns which were surrounded by fortified walls or had castles (Nicosia, Famagusta, Limassol, Paphos and Kyrenia) and in the deserted Latin villages. The census taken shortly after the conquest revealed a taxable population of some 85.000 Greeks, Armenians and Maronites and also 20.000 Turkish settlers, mostly campaign veterans, who were given land by Lala Mustafa Paşa.[1] 

As we can see from the Ottoman tax lists, which are kept in the archives of the Cypriot Archbishopric, some villages converted from Christian into Moslem religion from 1825 to 1832.[2] Some others, who were practicing both religions as Crypto-Christians (Lino-bambakians), returned to the Christian religion, after the British rule started. In 1908, their number was less than 1.200, decreasing from the number at the time of British occupation.[3]

The Moslem population, which brought the Turkish-Islamic culture to Cyprus from Anatolia, lived peacefully with the Christian population of the island during the Ottoman period. The Anatolian settlers intermingled with the Greek Cypriots and cooperated with them in every field of life. Although the two communities belonged to different religions and had other ethnic distinctive features, they lived harmoniously, influencing each other, as they worked side by side in the rural and urban areas.

British Rule

Establishment of British Rule

When the island’s administration was taken over by the British in 1878 and the first census was done in 1881, the total population was 185.630. 137.631 were Christian Greek Cypriots, 45.458 were Moslem Turkish Cypriots and 2.541 were other nationalities i.e. Roman Catholics (1.275), Maronites (830) and Armenian (174).[4]

The first printing house was soon established, allowing newspapers to be published both in Greek and Turkish. In this context, the weekly “Zaman” newspaper was first printed in 1891, while the first book in Turkish language titled “Müsameretname” (Evening Tales), was published and in 1893. Until 1914 the number of books published in Cyprus reached 600, 550 of them being in the Greek language.[5] 

Cyprus was annexed by Britain in 1923 (Lausanne Treaty), declaring it a Crown colony in 1924. In the same year, an organisation under the name “Kıbrıs Türk Cemaat-ı İslâmiyesi” (Cyprus Turkish Community of Islam) was established that was later (1931) changed to Kıbrıs Türk Milli Kongresi” (Cyprus Turkish National Congress).

Attempts to Formalize the Turkish Cypriot Identity

The British colonial administration had abolished the parliament in October 1931 after a nationalist rebellion of the Greek Cypriots. During these oppressive years all the national symbols of Greece and Turkey[6] were banned and no text books were allowed to come from the mainlands. In the 1930’s the British colonialists strived to prevent the concept of Cypriotism from leaving behind both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot nationalisms. According to Palmer, the British Governor, the only way to stop or postpone this development was to establish a new administrational structure, which would provoke inter-regional difference of identity. In a secret report sent to London on October 23, 1936, he claimed that:

“In order to have ease in the future on the island, we have to continue the administration on the basis of exceptis excipiendis (opening the way to exceptions), on the basis of districts. Thus the concept of Cypriot nationalism -which will be emerging as a new concept after Enosis becomes an eroded value- should be pushed away as much as possible and left in the dark. Now it is almost not living. Cypriots are either their district’s “nationalists”, or they are Greek or Turks”.[7]

It is in this period that we see one of the first articles that dealt with the identity of the Turkish Cypriots. Ulviye Mithat, who wrote in one of her articles in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper “Ses” (Voice), dated August 24, 1935, underlined the cultural problems of the Turkish Cypriots in those years as follows:

“As I heard, the cultural part of the history of Cyprus belonging to the Greek Cypriot community is completely protected. The Greek Cypriots recorded their cultural history in various works and prepared them for the coming generations. On the other hand, the Turkish Cypriots have not even thought of this subject! They also neglected every period of the history of Cyprus. Where is a history of literature? Where is a history of administration? Even their general history was written in a simple text book. The only article written up to now about our cultural history is the short article about the history of the Lycee, which was published last year in the journal of the Lycee. We need an article immediately about the development of our elementary schools which are the cradle of our culture”.

 The article mentioned by Ulviye Mithat was the one written by her husband, history teacher of the Lycee, Mustafa Mithat Bey, titled “Lisenin Tarihi” (History of the Lycee), and published in the “Kıbrıs Erkek Lisesi Mecmuası, 1933-1934 Yıllığı” (Journal of the Cyprus Boys’ Lycee, 1933-1934 Almanac) (107-127).[8]

In 1938, a book was written by İsmet Konur titled “Kıbrıs Türkleri” (The Turks of Cyprus) and was consequently published by the Remzi Bookshop in Istanbul. This book was banned in Cyprus by the British colonial regime.[9]

During the British period, although there were some political restrictions, the Greek Cypriot community developed better than the Turkish Cypriot community in the fields of economy, education, culture and social life. Additionally, the bourgeois movement came from Europe through Greece. The Turkish Cypriots were open to the modern way of life because of their coexistence with the Greek Cypriots.  That is why they were ready to adopt Atatürk’s reforms (modern dress, Latin alphabet, secularism etc.) quicker than the Anatolian Turks.

Although there was a difference of mentality and psychology between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, they did not have big disagreements. The development of their ethnic-national awareness was more rapid during the British rule as the middle-class grew in the towns. The enosis movement of the Greek Cypriots and the Greek defeat in Western Anatolia hastened the polarization of the two communities.

During the Second World War, we see an awakening of the Turkish Cypriot community. The formation of the first Turkish Cypriot political party was in 1942 under the title “Kıbrıs Adası Türk Azınlığı Kurumu” (KATAK, acronym for the “Organisation of the Turkish Minority in the Island of Cyprus” in Turkish). The separate ethnically-based trade-unions started in those years, because of the pro-enosis policy of the Greek Cypriots.

New literary journals and newspapers were also published in this period.[10] The first delegation of Turkish teachers from Turkey visited Cyprus in 1948. The leaders of the Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey came to Cyprus in 1949 and helped the Turkish Cypriot political parties, football clubs and organizations to unite and to establish the “Federation of Turkish Cypriot Associations”.

The number of books published by the Turkish Cypriots from 1878 to 1939 was 120, whereas from 1940 to 1963, 205 books were published. This shows the intellectual activity of the Turkish Cypriots in the fields of both politics and culture in the two periods.

Final years of the British Rule

After the Second World War, the sporadic assimilation of the Turkish Cypriots had stopped because of the emerging nationalism among the Turkish Cypriot elite. The Turkish Cypriot landowners and the leaders, who cooperated closely with the British colonial government, were unable to catch up with the development, achieved by the Greek Cypriot commercial bourgeoisie. The Turkish Cypriot leadership preferred to start the notorious “from Turk to Turk campaign” only with the help of the underground organisation TMT, with the aim of building the economic and political base for the partition of the island between the two communities.

During the turbulent years of anti-British terror the Turkish Cypriots were used as colonial police in order to fight against the EOKA rebels, who aimed at the union (enosis) of the island with Greece.
In this period, we see one of the first scientific researches about the Turkish Cypriot community, which was done by Professor Charles Fraser Buckingham of Islamic Studies at Manchester University. His first article was titled "The Cypriot Turks" and was published in the Journal of Royal Central Society (April 1956-No.43, pp.126-130). His second article was titled "The Turks of Cyprus" and was published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (December 1957-Vol 87, Part II). He also wrote "Islam in Cyprus", published in The Islamic Quarterly (July 1955-Vol II, No 2, pp 153-141) and "Islam and Turkish Nationalism in Cyprus", published in Die Welt des Islam (1958, Vol V, No 1-2, pp 65-83).

Republic of Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus declared its independence on August 16, 1960 and the first official census was taken on December 11, 1960. The number of Turkish Cypriots at that time was 104.320. Adding the 475 Moslem gypsies and other Moslems, the total came to 104.942. The number of Christians was 473.265.[11]

The Turkish Cypriot underground organization, the TMT, continued to be active also after the foundation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. TMT killed in 1962 the two advocates, Ahmet Gürkan and Ayhan Hikmet, who were trying to organize the opposition around their newspaper “Cumhuriyet” (Republic) against the partitionist policy of the Turkish Cypriot leadership. Another Turkish Cypriot, the AKEL activist Dervish Ali Kavazoglou was murdered by the TMT in 1965 and the political opposition was supressed for a while. After 1967, the graduates of the secondary schools, who were forced to stay in the enclaves and do military service, were allowed to go abroad for higher education. Intellectual activities were limited during the 1960’s, because of the limited freedoms inside and outside the Turkish Cypriot enclaves. The number of books published during this period was only 187, including the official propaganda books.[12]

At the end of 1963, the Turkish Cypriots had withdrawn from the structure of the Cypriot state after the outbreak of inter-communal clashes and no census covering the Turkish Cypriots could be conducted thereafter. According to the study of a Canadian researcher, Richard A. Patrick, who served as an officer in UNFICYP, entitled "Political Geography and the Cyprus Conflict 1963-1971", published in 1976, there were a total of 119,147 Turkish Cypriots living in the Turkish Cypriot settlements on the island.


The Partition of the Island and the Arrival of the First Turkish Settlers

In 1974, Cyprus experienced two tragedies, the first one was the coup of the Greek fascist officers against the President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios. The other one took place five days later, as the Turkish troops occupied one third of the northern part of the island. The excuse was to restore the constitutional order before the coup. These two traumatic events effectively divided Cyprus and its population. During the military occupation of the northern part of the island, the Greek Cypriots fled to the southern part of the island, where the legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus had complete control.

Shortly after the division in summer 1974, the following information was provided in a report prepared by Ahmet Sami, the “Secretary-General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Justice of the Autonomous Turkish-Cypriot Administration", dated October 20, 1974:

"A total of 83.719 Turkish Cypriots live on the territory of the `Autonomous Turkish Cypriot administration'. There were 32.039 Turkish Cypriots left in the south. Approximately 10.000 of them are in the SBA, 4.200 in Limassol and in its villages, 12.000 in Paphos district, 2.630 in the Larnaca district, and 3.209 in the villages of Nicosia district. It was stated in the same report that until October 19, 1974, about 12.000 Turkish Cypriots had moved to the north".

According to the information given above, there were 71.719 Turkish Cypriots living north and 44.039 Turkish Cypriots living south of the partition line, making a total of 115.758. This essentially confirms the estimates published in the Patrick study.

Turkish settlers were first brought in from Anatolia in October 1974 on the pretext that "they would work in the hotels and gardens left behind by the Greek Cypriots". But the real aim of Turkey was to colonize the occupied northern part of the island by using similar traditional methods, which were implemented by the Turkish nationalist “Unity and Progress Association” (İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti) and which ethnically cleansed Anatolia from the Armenians and Greeks, before the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.

In January 1975, the families of Turkish military personnel, killed in Cyprus during the war of 1974, were settled in the north. They were granted citizenship by the decision of the “Council of Ministers” of the Turkish Cypriot Administration and they were given the houses and the properties of the Greek Cypriots, who were forced to leave their ancestral homes. This practice was extended further to granting houses and plots of land to anyone wishing to settle in Cyprus. Thus the first massive wave of immigration from Turkey was initiated after the signing of a “Protocol of Agricultural Workforce” in February 1975. A top secret directive[13] was issued under the title “Directive related with the fulfilment of the deficit of work force in the Turkish Region of Cyprus, prepared after the demand of the Cyprus Turkish Federated State”. It was stated there that even if all the Turkish Cypriots, who used to live in the south of the divide, would come to the north, there would not be enough workforce. Therefore the northern part would be populated as soon as possible.[14] To this effect, an announcement was made through the Directorates of Settlement and Governorships in 14 provinces of Turkey, including the Black Sea region (Trabzon, Samsun, Rize); the Aegean region (Manisa and Denizli) and the Mediterranean region (Antalya, Mersin, Silifke).

A secret document published with the above Directive revealed that a number of families were settled in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus: 81 families from Karakeşli village, 115 families from Silifke and 129 families from Taşkıran village of Trabzon. Other groups from Adana, Antalya, İçel, Denizli and other provinces were settled in a similar way.[15]

Those, who were willing to settle in the Turkish occupied part of the island, were sent to the island voluntarily. They were mainly from rural areas and they were settled in the villages, abandoned by the Greek Cypriots. These Turkish settlers were given enough agricultural land to cultivate and some animals. They were not allowed to leave their settlements at least for five years. Otherwise all would be taken from them. Those, who could not get accustomed to the new local conditions returned to Turkey later, but a great majority stayed. According to the above study by Kurtuluş and Purkis, 82.500 Turkish settlers were settled in the occupied part of Cyprus from 1975 to 1979, but 20-25% of them returned to Anatolia.[16]

On June 10, 1976, Zaman newspaper reported Rauf Denktash's response to those in the north, who criticized the way the resettlement was being conducted, as follows: "It was a matter of uprooting and resettling about 80 thousand people. This magnificent mission was accomplished by human beings, who could make mistakes". Denktash's statements confirmed that as early as 1976 the number of Turkish settlers was almost identical with the number of Turkish Cypriots resettled from the south to the north.

According to an article published in Zaman newspaper on August 9, 1977, Hakki Atun, “Minister for Settlement and Rehabilitation” of the "Cyprus Turkish Federated State”, had declared that 20.934 families, i.e. 83.650 Turkish Cypriots were settled in the north from 1974 to 1977. As the number of Turkish Cypriots coming from the south was 44.039, the remaining 39.611 persons must have been settlers transferred from Turkey.

A complementary provision was adopted in 1981 to the “Law of Citizenship” opening the way to Turkish settlers to be granted the citizenship of the separatist Turkish Cypriot statelet if they reside in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus permanently for at least one year, or if they made or could make an important contribution to the economy or social and cultural life, or if they rendered services to the security forces.

Turkish Settlers at the End of 1983

Turcification Policy

In the draft "Second Five-Year Development Plan" prepared by the State Planning Department and published in September 1983, it was stated that 91.225 persons were re-settled from 1974 to 1982 on the territory of the "Cyprus Turkish Federated State”. As the number of Turkish Cypriot refugees coming from the south was 44.039, the number of Turkish citizens settled in northern Cyprus can be estimated as 47.186. No official statistics were ever published.

The Turkish Cypriot population in 1960 was 104.942 and in 1974 it was 115.758. As of 1974, however, reference to the numbers of the "Turkish Cypriots" also included the Turkish settlers. It was clear that the number of Turkish settlers was constantly rising. A census taken on 26.5.1990 to determine the number of voters before the next general election showed that the "Turkish Cypriot" population had reached 173.224. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash ultimately revealed why detailed population statistics were never disclosed: "If we disclose them, they will know who came from where!”[17]

Increasing Crime Rates

The second wave of immigration of the Turkish settlers was in the 1980’s, especially after the declaration of the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) in 1983. A “Labour Force Agreement” was signed between governments of the “TRNC” and Turkey in 1987 and another agreement was signed in 1991, which allowed their citizens to enter into both states without a passport, but only by showing their Identity Cards.[18] This time, there was no incentives, but tolerance for all the good and bad activities.

The new regulation made it easy for everyone to come to the occupied area and parallel to this the crime rate increased considerably. This open-door policy was strongly criticized first by the Turkish Cypriot leader Dr. Fazıl Küçük in his newspaper “Halkın Sesi” and later by the two opposition parties, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and the Communal Liberation Party (TKP). These political parties were against the influx of Turkish citizens as illegal labour force from Turkey and were afraid that their presence will increase and harm the texture of the Turkish Cypriot community.[19] The first detailed article about the dangers of increased number of Turkish settlers in Northern Cyprus was published in the “Söz” (Word) weekly magazine (Issue: 26, April 11, 1986) under the title “Are we heading to the hegemony of those, who have an education of elementary school level and below?” In this article, statistical information was given about the level of education, the number of marriages, the partnership permits granted to the Turkish citizens and the criminality rate among them.

The same subject of demographical changes was dealt in further issues of the same magazine. For example, from 1977 to 1984, a total of 14.915 Turkish citizens were granted permission to work in “Northern Cyprus”, according to the 1984 Statistical Yearbook. If each one was considered to represent a family of at least 3 people, this meant 47.745 persons. This was in line with the number of Turkish citizens, who had been resettled. Even assuming that some of them left and returned to Turkey, it could be argued that with the most optimistic estimate, about 40.000 Turkish immigrants were settled in northern Cyprus until 1984.[20]

There was a great turmoil among the Turkish Cypriots, who entered into a new stage of survival or extinction, after the influx of the Turkish settlers from the mainland. The increasing number of Turkish settlers were also granted the citizenship of the “TRNC” and this was seen as a real threat to the existence of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots. After all, there were socio-cultural differences between the native Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish settlers coming from various parts of Anatolia.[21]

Soon the Turkish settlers started to form their own political parties and to take part in the general elections as well. Thus the Turkish settlers became a sensitive issue for the Turkish Cypriot political parties. Türk Birliği Partisi (TBP, Party of the Turkish Union) was established in 1982 and Yeni Doğuş Partisi (YDP, New Revival Party was established in February 1984 by a former military officer, Aytaç Beşeşler.

These parties were collaborating with the Turkish embassy in Nicosia and they supported the nationalist right wing governments and also the colonization policy of the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Threats to the Turkish Cypriot Identity

This policy of Turcification has been intensified, since the AKP is in power, acquiring an anti-secular point of view. Turkey has been implementing a new policy to change the secular traditions of the Turkish Cypriot community and to make them more Moslem by financing the constant construction of mosques. While in the period from 1974 to 2002 a mere nine mosques were built, since 2002, a total of 39 new mosques were built. The Turkish Cypriots perceive these Islamization activities with concern. For example the Trade union of Turkish Cypriot Teachers (KTÖS) issued a statement criticizing the ongoing Koran courses and new schools for religious education:

“There are 192 mosques in the “TRNC”, whereas there are 160 schools, 21 health centers and 17 hospitals. Each university wants to build a mosque and these plans increased the controversies. […] They say that they got permission from the Ministry of Education, but there are Koran courses ongoing in the mosques, without permission and controls. If the government does not have the power to control these places, they should resign".

AKP’s anti-secular campaign, also manifests itself through a constant attempt to enhance non secular training. In particular, in 2014 out of the 260 imams, who were paid from the budget of the “Prime Ministry” of the “TRNC”, a mere 13 of them were on permanent staff- list. Another 120 imams received their salaries from the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia”.[22]

The influences from mainland Turkey became more intense through the organs of the mass media, which promote this policy of Turkification of the occupied part of the island. There are Turkish students and graduates working in the Turkish Cypriot media organs (30 radio stations, 7 TV channels and 18 newspapers.) The mainland Turkish TV channels are relayed through a Turkish satellite and can be watched free of charge. The local Turkish Cypriot TV channels are watched only at a rate of 17%, getting almost no advertisement from the main Turkish companies that export goods worth 2,3 million dollars every day to the “TRNC”. 

In 2015, Turkey exported to the “TRNC” goods worth of 851 million dollars, whereas the “TRNC” exported to Turkey goods worth of a mere 62 million dollars! In the period from January to September 2016, the exported goods from the “TRNC” to Turkey had a total value of 83.873.287 dollars, whereas the imports from Turkey had a value of 1.026.953.811 dollars.[23]

All the Greek geographical names were changed into Turkish and the old names are not used anymore. The Turkish Cypriots were forced by law to get a surname as it is the case in Turkey. “Mersin 10” was adopted as the postal code of the occupied area of Cyprus as if “Northern Cyprus” is a province of Mersin-Turkey. The Turkish Lira was used as means of transactions instead of the Cyprus Pound and the exchange rate was officially fixed as 1:36 for many years, in spite of the high inflation rate of the Turkish Lira in those years.    

Turkish Cypriots’ Reaction to the Turkification Policy

Initial Reactions

The awareness of Cypriotism in the cultural field has led to new studies about the Turkish Cypriot history, literature, culture and folklore, which became the popular subjects for research among the Turkish Cypriot elite. From 1974 up to 1996, over 1.500 books on these subjects were published, a striking trend, which went parallel to the political struggle by the opposition political parties for more democracy and economic progress. The Turkish Cypriots started to ask the question “Who are we and what are the differences between us and the Turkish settlers coming from Turkey?”

The problem of protecting the original Cypriot identity against the cultural assimilation, which gained importance from our subject’s point of view, forced the Turkish Cypriot intellectuals to think of this situation constantly and to take various actions against it.

Defending the Turkish Cypriot Identity

Since 1974, the Turkish Cypriots have been focusing more attention to the struggle of repossessing and developing their own cultural identity. Initially, discussions in this direction started under the roof of some political parties. Later activities included those of cultural associations and personal researches.

The first comprehensive meeting for the definition of the qualities of the Turkish Cypriot culture took place in Nicosia from February 1-4, 1983 with the participation of cultural and artistic organizations and personalities. This meeting was also supported by the responsible “Minister for the Cultural Affairs”. More than 200 persons participated at this Advisory Meeting on Culture and Art and 24 papers were submitted. The activities were carried on in 10 separate commissions on Language and Literature, History, Music, etc. During this meeting, the Cypriot culture in general and the Turkish Cypriot culture in particular were discussed intensively. Only a part of the discussions was published in the Söz daily newspaper, along with my three articles for these meetings (January 31 to February 12, 1983).[24]

Right after the advisory meeting, Halk Sanatları Derneği (Has-Der, The People’s Arts Association) organized in Nicosia on February 25, 1983 the First Folklore Symposium. This was one of the first scientific steps forward in the crystallization of the ethnic-national consciousness of the Turkish Cypriots. All the papers, submitted to the Folkloric Symposia from 1983 to 1986, were published in a book by the “TRNC Ministry of Culture and Tourism” in 1986, which was a huge gain.

Other panel discussions and publications concerning the identity research were later conducted, these however, reflected the official ideology, adopting chauvinist views, e.g. “The importance of the identity of the Turks, living in Cyprus, its necessity from the geographical, historical, national-religious and political point of view” (December 1990)[25] and a book titled “The Identity of the Turkish Cypriots” (1990) published by the “Ministry of National Education and Culture”. The latter made the following assertions:

“We, in other words, the Turkish Cypriots of today, are not, as the Greek Cypriots allege, the remnants of the invaders, but the real owners of the island... The Turkish Cypriots are the oldest people of the island with their history and culture and as a national people, they are different from the Greek Cypriot people and have all the rights that the Greek Cypriots have”.[26]

Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriots are more willing to stress their cultural differences with Turkish citizens and settlers. For example, nowadays, they started to use more frequently the Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot local words as names of the restaurants that serve local dishes: “Gafgarıt, Galbur, Piron, and Garavolli”. A lot of villages organize every year festivals (panayır) with the names of local products (Walnut, Orange, Strawberry, Date etc.) and perform the Cypriot folkloric dances with local music. Theatre plays are staged with Turkish Cypriot accent by the folkloric associations. Many webpages and Face-book groups are established, where Cypriot identity is possessed and propagated.                

The Council of Europe and the Population in the Occupied Area of Cyprus

The Spanish parliamentarian, Alfonse Cuco, Rapporteur of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography of the Council of Europe (CoE), prepared a report on the "Structure of the Cypriot Communities" dated April 27, 1992 which was discussed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE. According to this Report, from 1974 to 1990 the population in the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus increased by only 13,70% whereas the increase in the northern part was 48,35%.[27] The same Report mentions that UN Representative Camilion had informed Cuco that 40-45 thousand Turkish civilians had been transferred to the island.[28]

In 1997, the number of Turkish settlers and their children living in the occupied area had not been declared officially. Yet, based on the statistics of outgoing and incoming passengers, I was able to estimate that the number of the Turkish settlers in Northern Cyprus about 100.000 persons.[29] The same process was repeated in 2009, resulting into the following estimation: 198.101 Turkish citizens were staying in the occupied area and 46.546 Turkish Cypriots were staying abroad. Since then, the immigration statistics are not published anymore in detail.

The First Official Turkish Cypriot Census

Twenty two years of Continuous Colonization: The First Official Census

The results of the first official census conducted by the Turkish Cypriot authorities on December 1996 and evaluated by the State Institute of Statistics in Ankara, were publicized two years later. According to this data, the de facto population of northern Cyprus was 200.587 and the de jure population was 188.662.[30]

The difference between the two was explained by Ahmet Bulunç, Adviser of the State Planning Department, who stated that on the day of the census 11.925 persons had declared that their permanent residence was outside the “TRNC”.

The results of the census were as follows:

Total population                            200.587 (100%)

Citizens of the “TRNC”                 164.460 (82%)

Born in the “TRNC”                       137.398

Born in Turkey                                 23.924

Born in a 3rd country                         3.138

Citizens of Turkey                            30.702 (15%)

Citizens of a 3rd country                    5.425 (3%)

The number of Greek Cypriots living in the north was 384 and the number of Cypriot Maronites was 173.

No data was given about those, who were citizens of both the “TRNC” and the Republic of Turkey or about those, whose parents were born in Cyprus. The indigenous Turkish Cypriots were already a minority in the occupied north in 1996 and their number was estimated not to exceed 100,000. The numbers of those with double citizenship already exceeded those of the Turkish Cypriots.[31] The census did not specify the number of children born in the “TRNC” to Turkish parents. There was no mention of the approximately 35.000 Turkish soldiers in Cyprus, nor of their dependents. It is further estimated that in addition there were about 25.000 or 30.000 illegal workers, pushing the total of the de facto population even higher. According to information provided by sources, who would like their identity to remain undisclosed, approximately 46.000 people have been granted “TRNC” citizenship since 1974 and 20-25.000 of those do not live permanently in the “TRNC”.[32] This number includes famous Turkish politicians, such as Kenan Akin, who originates from mainland Turkey and was the “TRNC” “Minister of Agriculture and Forestry”, disclosed that there were 60.000 mainland settlers in the “TRNC”.[33]

CoE Report on Colonisation by Turkish settlers of the occupied part of Cyprus

The report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography of the CoE (May 2, 2003, Doc 9799), prepared by Finnish parliamentarian, Jaakko Laakso, informs us that:

“2. It is a well-established fact that the demographic structure of the island has been continuously modified since the de facto partition 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. (. . .)

4. 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. (...)

5. 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 "naturalization" designed to encourage new arrivals and introduced by the Turkish Cypriot administration with full support of the Government of Turkey.

6. The Assembly is convinced that the presence of the settlers constitutes a process of hidden colonization and an additional and important obstacle to a peaceful negotiated solution of the Cyprus problem.

36. The aim of the Turkish-Cypriot administration's policy towards the settlers has been to promote their permanent establishment on the island. The settlers are granted housing, land or other properties on special terms. They are issued with a "concession certificate" which they are not entitled to sell or pass to a third party until a period of 20 years has elapsed.

37. The most important measure for the settlers has been the possibility of acquiring Turkish-Cypriot nationality. In 1975, the Turkish-Cypriot administration passed Act No. 3/1975, under which nationality could be given to anyone who requested it and, in particular, to members of the Turkish armed forces who had served in Cyprus and their families.

38. In 1981, complementary provisions were established according to which Turkish-Cypriot nationality can be granted to persons permanently resident in the northern part for at least one year, those who made or could make an important contribution to the economy, or social and culture life, and those who have rendered services to the security forces.

39. Along with citizenship, the settlers get a whole series of political rights including the right to vote and set up political parties”.


Citizenships Granted to Settlers: No Official Number

Although there is no reliable official number of the citizenships granted to the Anatolian settlers, a member of the “Parliament”, Arif Albayrak (CTP), disclosed in 2003 that the number of citizenships granted from 1974 to 2003 was a total of 53.904.

Birlik newspaper gave the following details of the citizenships, granted after 1994 (numbering 17.293) by the “cabinet” decision: 3.675; by the approval of the “Ministry of Interior”: 7.272; third generation: 2.246; by matrimony: 1.971; citizens of a third country: 1.142; Bulgarian Turks: 987.

The CTP was very critical of this practice, when they were in the opposition, but granting of “TRNC” citizenship to the Turkish settlers continued during the period of the CTP governments (2013-2016) as well. 796 people were made citizens by the decision of the “cabinet” of the “TRNC”. (A total 3.916 persons, including the natural routes.)

During the period of UBP-DP coalition governments (2016-2017), 7.200 citizens of Turkey were granted the citizenship of the “TRNC”. If each person is multiplied by 4 (wife and at least 2 children), this number makes 28 thousand new citizens.

According to the “Ministry of National Education and Culture” of the “TRNC”, the percentage of the pupils, who originate from Turkey and study at the schools in the occupied area, is 26%. The mother tongue of 4,3% of them is not Turkish.

Since the population in the occupied area is rapidly increasing every year, the number of schools, teachers and classes has become insufficient. There are 113 “state” primary schools and 19 lyceums. In the 2016-2017 educational year the number of pupils in each class reached to 45 and the excessive number of students in the classes made the teachers, not to show enough interest in each student.

The Turkish Cypriot secondary school teachers’ trade union (KTOEÖS) proposed that new lyceums should be built in each of the cities Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia. The Turkish Cypriot primary school teachers’ trade union (KTÖS) argued that three new primary schools are needed in Famagusta, one in Nicosia, two in Kyrenia and one in Karpasia. The KTÖS said there are 160 schools compared to 192 mosques in the northern part of Cyprus, complaining that more money was being poured in religious affairs at the expense of education. The union issued a statement after learning that the authorities were preparing to shut down two elementary schools, one in the Famagusta area and the other in Morphou area. KTÖS criticized the proposed amendment to the legislation on the religious affairs department, which will open the way for Koran courses for children and increase the budget of the department that will allow more recruitment from Turkey. This amendment had the support of the “Minister of Education and Culture”, Berova, who at the same time claimed there was no money for teachers or building new classrooms.

Further Transformation in the Demographical Character in the Occupied Area

The economic situation in the “TRNC” was very bad after the bankruptcy of some of the local banks in 1999. A third wave of Turkish settlers and workers came after the voting of the Annan Plan in 2004, which opened the way for the plunder of the Greek Cypriot lands through an unpresented construction boom. The economy of the “TRNC” developed 50% from 2002 to 2007, but after the global crisis the economic activity diminished. The economic grow from 2008 to 2016 was approximately 1,3%.[34]

Many construction workers arrived at the “TRNC” in order to find a job and later some of them brought their families as well. This caused also a shortage in the infrastructure of the cities. Recently, the union of Turkish Cypriot Constructors announced that the annual need for housing in the “TRNC” is about 800 units, but in the last three years, more than 6.500 housing units were built.[35]

Growing Number of University Students

Parallel to the influx of Turkish settlers, there is another channel of sending Turkish Citizens to the occupied area of Cyprus. After 1974, there was only one institution of higher education, “The Institute of High Technology”, which was turned into “Eastern Mediterranean University” in 1988. This university in Famagusta had only 2.279 students (1.112 from Turkey, 719 from the “TRNC” and 438 from third countries) in the first academic year.

After 29 years, there are now 14 universities in the “TRNC”, with a total of 93.292 students (52.135 from Turkey, 27.538 from third countries and 13.619 from the “TRNC”). 18 more universities have received their licences and they will be functioning in the coming years. But those, who have more students (87.099) are the old ones, established by the Turkish Cypriot Foundations or private persons: Eastern Mediterranean University (1988-Educational Foundation), Near East University (1988-Private), Lefke American University (1990-Foundation), Girne American University (1985-Private), and International Cyprus University (1997-Private).

According to the State Planning Department of the “TRNC”, the total revenue coming from the universities was in 2013, 535,6 million dollars, in 2014, 589,8 million dollars and in 2015 636,2 million dollars. This amount makes almost half of the budget revenues of the “TRNC”.[36]

Hüseyin Angolemli, a member of the “Parliament” from the TDP (Communal Democracy Party), stated that the foreign workers are brought to the country with student status, since there is no infrastructure of the universities and that these people do not go to the school, but work as cheap labour force. Even the bar-girls are brought from abroad with student status.[37]

Havadis newspaper reported that almost 20.000 students do not go to the classes and prefer to work in the construction sites, restaurants and cafes for a daily wage of 35-40 TL. There are others, who practice prostitution.[38] There are also commissioners, who get 500 dollars from each student and 500 dollars from the university.[39]

The Report of the Higher Studies Workshop, organized by the YÖDAK (Organization for the Higher Education and Accreditation) stressed that the higher education institutions have increased the number of their students, but they could not be institutionalized according to the universal standards for universities and that the quality of education is not good. YÖDAK does not have an authority to enforce anything. The state policy gives importance only for growth in quantity, but not in quality. Politics is interfering the affairs of the universities. There is a destructive and unjust competition among the universities and ethical rules do not function. The salaries and wages are low, the standards of admission requirements are low and not strict. There is possibility to work with a student visa and there are also chances for scholarships.[40]

Apart from the scholarships given by the universities themselves, the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Turkey gives educational credits to 22.517 university students and 405 scholarships for the “TRNC” through its Institution for Higher Education, Credits and Dormitories. There are three dormitories serving the university students from Turkey: Bülent Ecevit Dormitory (built in 2011, with 962 bed capacity), Necmeddin Erbakan Dormitory (built in 2013 with 769 bed capacity) and Teacher Refika Dormitory (built in 2016 with 1.000 bed capacity, but only for female students).[41]

 On the other hand, Turkey is also active to give religious education especially for the settlers’ children and other young people, who are sent with scholarships from Turkey to the “TRNC”:

“At the moment there are 600 students at the two theological faculties, one at the Near East University (YDU) and the other one at the University of Social Sciences [Sosyal Bilimler Üniversitesi], while another 800 pupils attend the Theological Colleges. Almost all of the students and teenage pupils are from Turkey who came to the occupied areas with scholarships while a small number are the children of the Anatolian settlers; the teachers are all coming from Turkey. The newly established Hala Sultan Theological College is part of the big complex with a boarding house, a large mosque, conference rooms and shops that will cost 80 million dollars. The Hala Sultan Mosque with its four tall minarets – a small replica of the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne – will be ready by 2017 at a total cost of 30 million dollars. Another large mosque with six minarets is being constructed at the Near East University and is expected to be completed by 2017”.[42]

India issued a manifesto calling the students and their parents not to go to the “TRNC” universities. The government of Nigeria started to follow these universities more closely on the ground that the “TRNC” could become a country of crimes, since it is not under the control of the Interpol.[43]

The CEO of the American University of Kyrenia (GAÜ), Asım Vehbi made the following assessment about the universities in the “TRNC” to the columnist Sait Gürsoy:

“There are about 300.000 people living in the “TRNC” now. Today, over 75.000 students from 120 different countries and academics from 50 different countries are in the “TRNC” at an important point in the context of internationalization. Universities continue their strategic sector position by directly contributing to the “TRNC” economy. The budget of the “TRNC” is 4 billion TL. The contribution of the universities to the economy is 3,1 billion TL. In the “TRNC”, where there is 1 student for every 5 persons, the contribution made to the economy has reached very large numbers. If we think that 71 percent of contributions go directly to the public, we can say that the “TRNC” is rapidly advancing towards being an educational island”.[44]

Social Problems Created by Increased Population


On the other hand, there are many disadvantages of having so many students, settlers, workers and so-called tourists, coming to the occupied area of Cyprus without any control. Every day the mass media is full of reports about the increasing number of theft, prostitution, rape, murder, wounding, drug offences. The great majority of the convicted persons are Turkish citizens.

From January 2006 to December 2016, a total of 5.818 cases were filed in the Supreme Criminal Court. Their breakdown is as follows: 19 murders, 525 attempted murder, assault with grave injuries, 508 cases of using weapons, explosives and knife, violence and threat and 2.157 drug offences. 2016 was a record breaking year.[45]

In 2016, 20.491 legal cases were filed and 13.730 of them were about money lending without payments.[46]

According to the Nicosia Police Directorate, 1.026 crimes were committed in the district of Nicosia over a period of nine months. 732 crime files were sent to the court. 562 criminal files were demanding for more than three years’ imprisonment, 464 files of misdemeanour for up to 3 years' imprisonment.[47]

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Çavuşoğlu announced lately that there were 5.531 Turkish citizens sitting in the prisons of 147 countries and 218 of them were in the “TRNC”.[48] According to the legislation in force, if a Turkish citizen is convicted to an imprisonment at the courts of the “TRNC” and later s/he is sent to Turkey, the person can be free after staying in prison less than the half of the time of the “TRNC”, i.e. 8 years imprisonment in the “TRNC” means 3 years imprisonment in Turkey.[49] The central prison in Nicosia is not sufficient and there are 440 convicts living in the dormitories with a capacity of 175 persons.[50]

Teenager crime rate is also high among the settlers’ children. According to the Activities Report of the Supreme Court Secretariat for 2010-2015, 553 children were convicted in a total of 511 cases. It is noteworthy that children under 16 years of age are taking part in an increasing number of crimes. The highest incident rate was in 2012 with burglaries, murder attempt, murder, assault, wounding, keeping guns and explosives.[51] From 2005 to 2016, 1.373 children, aged less than 16 years old, were convicted. They were involved mainly in theft incidents.[52]


The Chairman of Casino Managers union, Ahmet Arkın, announced on August 20, 2015 in a press conference that there are 28 casinos in the “TRNC”. These provided 600 million dollars annually as input to the economy and that the industry needed more interest and legal support, so that it could continue to work and develop in the desired conditions.

Bet Offices

There are a total of 5 bet companies operating legally in the “TRNC” and 48 bet offices. The state gets 1 million Euros from each company with up to 10 branches and these bet offices are taxed with millions of Turkish liras. There are 25 illegal gambling and illegal betting websites detected by the police.[53]

Night Clubs

According to the US Report on Women-trafficking, there were a total of 334 women working as “consomatris” (artistes) in the 35 night clubs in the “TRNC” (2016). Most of these sex-workers were from Moldovia (128), Ukraine (53), Morocco (30), Belorussia (26), Russia (25), Kazakhstan (17), Kenya (14) and other countries. These night clubs provide 20-30 million TL to the state budget annually. From 1997 to 2002, 3,927 sex-workers had worked in the “TRNC”.[54]

Although routine health checks are conducted at the State Hospitals, according to statutory legislation for women working in nightclubs, there are increasing number of sexually transmitted diseases. While prostitution is forbidden by law, soldiers and students are not allowed to enter the nightclubs for the purpose of this service. Some years ago, “peace operations” were organized in order to control the night clubs and men, who were bargaining with women, working as "artistes" in nightclubs, were also being detained on the pretext of "prostitution." Tens of people were taken into custody on the grounds that it was a "mafia" structure. The media covered the problems caused by the night clubs, while Ertuğrul Hasipoğlu the Health “Minister” was against the closure of these night clubs. He reminded the opinion of an ex-“Minister”, who said: “If I close the night clubs for 40.000 soldiers and 40.000 students, will they not handle us?” The use of such a sentence had disturbed the military and one university rector issued an angry announcement to the “Minister”.[55]

Sex tourism combined with gambling in the casinos and entertainment with pop stars, who come from Turkey every weekend to perform at the 5 star hotels with casinos, is very popular with the Turkish tourists.  

According to the “Annual Activity Report of the Courts” in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, 131 cases of rape or sexual assaults went to trial at the “Supreme Criminal Court” within the last ten years. However, the paper reports that it has been a serious increase of this crime in the last 3-4 years: 2013 (7 cases), 2014 (15 cases), 2015 (21 cases), 2016 (29 cases).[56]

Results of the Last Official Census in the “TRNC”

According to the 2011 Population and Housing Census, there were 286.257 permanent residents (de-jure) in the “TRNC”, excluding the Turkish Army personnel. Out of this population, 150.483 (52,6%) were male and 135.774 (47,4%) were female. It was announced by the “Undersecretary of State Planning Department” Ali Korhan that the number of Cyprus-born (north or south) people living in the “TRNC” was 160.207. The number of people born in Turkey, who were permanently residing in the “TRNC”, was 104.641.

The total number of Turkish Cypriot citizens, who declared that they had single or double citizenships amounted to 190.494 (66,5% of the resident population). Of the total, 136.362 persons (71,6%) had only “TRNC” citizenship and 38.085 (20%) had double (“TRNC” and Turkish) citizenship.

Since this last census, there have been many births, deaths and many people left or arrived at the country and no one knows the real number of the population today in the Turkish occupied northern part of the island.

The total population in 2013 in “Northern Cyprus” was 301.988 according to the Economic and Social Indicators 2014, published by State Planning Department of Northern Cyprus in December 2015.

Growing Number of Population and Voters in the “TRNC”

When the first general elections were held in the occupied area on June 20, 1976, the number of voters was 75.724, out of a population of 130.136. During the general elections of December 6, 1998, the number of voters grew up to 120.758, out of a population of 188.662. The last official number of voters was announced in 2017 as 180.949 by the Supreme Electoral Council.

Unfortunately there is no official number disclosed for the population, living in the occupied area of Cyprus under the so-called “TRNC”, which is only recognized by Turkey. The “TRNC” State Planning Department made an estimate based on the population of 294.600 in 2011 and gave the number as 342.587 persons for 2016. On the other hand, there are active mobile telephones in the “TRNC” two times more than this number.

Meanwhile, the same Department estimated that the non-institutional civil population was 245.828 in 2016 and the number of work-force was 118.387.  This number does not include those, who go to school and are below 15 years of age and those in the private hospitals, pensioner homes, army barracks and prisons.

The Turkish settlers and the Turkish university students living in the occupied area participated lately in some Turkish electoral processes and their registered number was announced officially by the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia. During the general election of May 15, 2015 in Turkey, there were 91.588 Turkish citizens, who were eligible to vote and living in the “TRNC”.

This number rose to 95.366 during the general election of November 1, 2016. For the last referendum of “Constitutional Amendments” in Turkey, on April 15, 2017 there were 104.509 Turkish citizens living in the “TRNC” and had the right to vote at the Turkish “Embassy” in Nicosia.[57]

Recent Involvement in the Internal Affairs of the Turkish Cypriots by Turkey

On June 18, 2014, an agreement was signed between Turkey and the “TRNC”, which provided for the opening of an “Overseas Coordination Office” by the Turkish Ministry of Youth and Sports in the “TRNC”. This office would manage all projects and programs related to sports, such as the renovation of sporting facilities, organization of sports camps, as well as the management and allocation of student housing facilities throughout the “TRNC” with its annual budget of 13 million Turkish Lira.  However, the majority of the Turkish Cypriot youth organizations rejected this deal by establishing the “We reject Platform” (Reddediyoruz). They believed that this agreement had a hidden Islamic agenda and it caused debates over “the sovereignty of the TRNC” and Turkey’s position as a guarantor state.

Specifically, the deal refers to an internal protocol signed on February 25, 2015, between the Turkish Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs. And herein lies the crux of the problem according to the “We reject Platform”, the youth movement stimulated by this controversial deal.

The protocol of the deal ascribes various responsibilities and services to both state bodies and attributes all sports, youth activities and institutions (such as sports facilities and camps, student dormitories, etc.) as directly related to young people’s moral and spiritual development.

Zeki Çeler, a spokesperson from the youth movement fighting this deal, explained that any religious event or activity, such as “Holy Birth Week” or “Koran” recitation courses, would be in coordination with sports-related events and activities. The times of sports education will be coordinated with the daily prayer times, there will be specific courses that teach how to perform the namaz or “Koran” reading. It is basically for the youth to adopt certain moral and religious norms and values and this will be executed through direct collaboration between the Turkish Ministry and the local religious representatives. The idea is to spread religion into sports, youth centers and programs.”

Çeler also criticized the lack of consultation with either the “TRNC” government or local researchers and community needs. “The deal has clauses that give diplomatic rights, privileges to the assigned officials. It completely transfers the fate of young people to the hands of this office”, he added.

The Agreement Regarding the Establishment and Activities of an Overseas Coordination Office of Youth and Sports Ministry Between the Governments of Republic of Turkey and the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (Ratification) Law was enacted on June 13, 2016 and was sent to the “Office of the President” on June 14, 2016 to be promulgated in the Official Gazette and entered into force.

The Platform took to the streets again in mid-June, when the deal was to be voted on in “Parliament”. The wave of protests grew rapidly and lasted for several days. Meanwhile, under pressure from this growing protest movement, “President” Mustafa Akıncı referred the said Law to the “Constitutional Court”.

On August 3, over a thousand Turkish Cypriot protesters took to streets of Nicosia once again in order to march against increasing Turkish state control over the future social and cultural lives of Turkish Cypriot youth.

On August 5, 2016, the “TRNC” Constitutional Court decided that article 3 (1) (G) of the agreement contravened the constitution, while all the other articles did not. It was a victorious moment for all social movements, which saw this agreement as a threat that failed to recognize the “TRNC”s so-called sovereignty and the socio-cultural structure of the Turkish Cypriot community.

Article 3 (1) (G) provided that the office will ensure the construction, operation, repair and maintenance of the campuses, which operate or will operate in the “TRNC” by the General Directorate for Credit and Dormitories and the modernisation of all existing campuses and that it will implement the protocol, which was signed on February 10, 2012 with the “TRNC”s competent ministry and was put to effect upon approval by the “cabinets” of both countries. It also provided for the preparation of additional protocols, if necessary. The people rejected the deal so emphatically that many have begun to associate the resistance as a more general rejection of Turkish involvement in the “TRNC”s domestic affairs. In fact, Turkish Cypriot politics heavily centre around the question of Turkey remaining on the island as a guarantor state or not. Following the Court’s decision, the “We reject Platform” won what they set out to achieve: “President” Akıncı sent the deal back to the “Parliament” along with the Court verdict. The “Parliament” approved the agreement with a small amendment.

The “education secretary” of the Turkish Cypriot Teacher’s trade union (KTOS), Burak Mavis issued a written statement in June 2017 and condemned the “amendment law for the religious affairs department”, which was discussed recently in the assembly and stated that “they would not accept the religion to become a political instrument, neither the education to become a religious instrument”.

Pointing out that in the last 15 years the Turkish Cypriot community had no chance to recover from the reactionary facilities, which derive from the secular life model, Mavis recalled that they will continue their struggle against those, who are exerting efforts to put religious pressure on the community. “The religious communities, the religious movements and the associations with enormous economic activities make propaganda”, Mavis said, adding that they violate “people’s personal lives”.

In short, Turkey’s military, economic and political presence has already changed the demographical structure in the occupied area of Cyprus and turned the Turkish Cypriots into a minority in their own home country. In the near future, the Turkish settlers can be represented in the so-called “Assembly of the TRNC”, according to the ratio they reached in the population, as Erdoğan envisaged during his first visit to the occupied area.

Latest Data 2015-2017

As of December 2015, the number of workers, who had consecutive work permits in the “TRNC” was 20.762. While at least 12 consecutive work permits were required to get citizenship during the CTP government, now Turkey demands that those Turkish individuals, who have at least six consecutive work permits, should be granted citizenship. There are at the moment 8.627 persons, who have at least 6 consecutive work permits. If these Turkish citizens would be granted citizenship, they will be with their spouses and children 34.500 persons. The “Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister”, Serdar Denktaş said: "During the UBP-DP government, we gave 7.200 citizenships. But if this number should be 27.000 (as Erdoğan demanded), we shall be granting further citizenships".

According to the official numbers announced by the “Ministry of Labour and Social Security of the TRNC”, there were 12.500 registered unemployed persons and 42.000 registered foreign work-force. Most of them were not qualified workers. There were 92.976 socially insured workers and the number of retired persons from the “Social Insurance Department” increased in one year by 1.300 persons. There were approximately 34.500 pensioners.

The National Unity Party-Democratic Party (UBP-DP) coalition government announced on June 14, 2017 the number of the persons, who had been granted the citizenship of the “TRNC” from April 2016 to March 2017 as 4.603 persons. The statement noted that 372 of these persons became citizens with a decision of the “cabinet” and 1.904 with the approval of the “Ministry of Interior”.


Since 1974, due to the constant occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by the Turkish army and the massive colonization by the Turkish settlers, the Turkish Cypriot community faces serious problems.  Despite the Turkish efforts, not to allow official and clear information about this issue, this paper provided extensive evidence by recording the settlers’ actual numbers and by developing their main typologies, such as workers, families of Turkish military personnel and students.

The demographic changes caused by this enormous transfer of settlers turned the Turkish Cypriot community into a minority, in the northern part of Cyprus. To make matters worse, the rate, with which these demographic changes occur, indicates that the Turkish Cypriot community will be facing an existential threat.

These demographic changes have severe social implications: increase of the criminality rates, drug abuse and sex tourism. Furthermore, this continuous colonization process has been going hand in hand with a Turkification policy, whose features have been endangering the Turkish Cypriot culture. Crucial aspects of this Turkification process were recorded, such as the control of the media by Turkey, the increasing religious propaganda and the attempts to diminish Turkish Cypriot’s secularism. In this context, the attempts of the Turkish Cypriots to react to Turkey’s involvement in their internal affairs came mainly from intellectuals and the teachers’ unions who strived to prevent cultural assimilation.

The recent Turkish general elections (June 2018) along with the Constitutional Referendum (April 2017) enabled Erdoğan to maximize his political control over Turkey. As the deterioration of the Turkish economy intensifies, there will be serious consequences in both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community. Given the asymmetrical nature of the relation between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community, these latest developments are expected to enable Turkey to intensify its control over the latter.

[1] Ahmet Djavit An, Origins of Turkish Cypriots, Cyprus Today, Vol.XLVI, No.2, April-June 2008.

[2] Theodoros Papadopoulos, The very last transfer to Moslem of the Rural Population in Cyprus, Cyprus Today, July-December 1967 and January-March 1968.

[3] Roland L. N. Mitchell, A Muslim-Christian Sect in Cyprus, The Nineteenth Century and After, Vol.LXIII, Jan.-June 1908, 751-762.

[4] Theodore Papadopoulos, Social and Historical Data on Population (1570-1881), Nicosia 1965, 78-79.

[5] Ahmet An, Kıbrıs’ta Türkçe Basılmış Kitaplar Listesi (The List of the Turkish Books Printed in Cyprus), Ankara 1997, 3-4.

[6] The role of the mainland Greek and Turkish nationalism as an external factor, the formation and the consolidation of the Turkish Cypriot leadership during the process starting from the beginning of the 1900’s as a Muslim community and turning into a Turkish community in the 1950’s, are dealt extensively in my book “Kıbrıs Türk Liderliğinin Oluşması: Dinsel Toplumdan Ulusal Topluma Geçiş Süreci (1900-1942)” (The Formation of the Turkish-Cypriot Leadership-The Process of Making a National Community out of a Religious Community (1900-1942), published in Nicosia in 1997.

[7] Quoted in Ahmet An, “Kıbrıslılık Bilincinin Geliştirilmesi” (The Development of Cypriot Awareness), Lefkoşa 1998, 43.

[8] Mustafa Mithat Bey, who wrote “Muhtasar Kıbrıs Tarihi” (The Concise History of Cyprus) (1926), had published in 1930 a 73-paged book “Muhtasar Kıbrıs Coğrafyası ve Muhtasar Kıbrıs Tarihi” (A Short Geography and A Short History of Cyprus for the Schools) in Turkish together with the geography teacher, İbrahim Hakkı Bey, published in Birlik Printing House in Nicosia.

[9] Söz newspaper, 18 October 1938.

[10] See the article “40 Yıl Öncesi Düşün Yaşamımızdan Örnekler” (Examples from the Turkish-Cypriot Thought in the Journals of the 1940's), in the book by Ahmet An, “Kıbrıs Türk Kültürü Üzerine Yazılar” (Articles on Turkish Cypriot Culture), Nicosia 1999, 91-122.

[11] Census of Population and Agriculture 1960, Government Printing Office, Nicosia, 1962.

[12] Ahmet An, Kıbrıs’ta Türkçe Basılmış Kitaplar Listesi (The List of the Turkish Books Printed in Cyprus), Ankara 1997.

[13] This directive was dated May 2, 1975 and bore number 97. A mere fifty copies were printed.

[14] Mehmet Ali Birand, Diyet, İstanbul 1979, 85 & 92.

[15] The details of this settlement were recorded by two Turkish scholars, Hatice Kurtuluş and Semra Purkis, who focused on the economic, social and spatial integration problems of the Turkish settlers in Northern Cyprus. Their findings were published in 2010 in a book edited by Besime Şen – Ali Ekber Doğan, “Tarih, Sınıflar ve Kent” (History, Classes and City), Dipnot Yayınları, İstanbul 2010, 465-506.

[16] Mehmet Ali Birand, ibid, 60.

[17] Yeni Düzen newspaper 23 July 1993.

[18] “TRNC” Official Gazette, 30 July 1991, Issue No: 20945.

[19] Yeni Düzen and Halkın Sesi newspapers, 31 July 1991.

[20] Söz weekly magazine, Nicosia, No.55 and 56, 31 October 1986 and 7 November 1986.

[21] See “Kuzey Kıbrıs’ta Türkiyeli Göçmenlerin Kültür Farklılığı” (Cultural differences of the Turkish settlers in Northern Cyprus), “Kıbrıs’ta Sosyalist Gerçek” (Socialist Truth in Cyprus) journal, Nicosia, No. 77 (Special issue), August 2002.

[22] I have dealt with this subject in my article under the title “The Development of Turkish Cypriot Secularism and Turkish Cypriot Religious Affairs”, published in “Eastern Mediterranean Policy Note, No. 8, 10 July 2016, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs, University of Nicosia. For more on the “Written Evidence” regarding the number of the Turkish Cypriots who remain in Cyprus and the role of Turkey see:

[23] Havadis newspaper, 8 February 2017.

[24]These were: 1. The Origins of Cypriot culture from historical and ethnological point of view, 2. Changes in the ethnic and cultural structure of Cyprus after 1571, 3. Cultural and folkloric interactions between the two main ethnic-national communities living in Cyprus.

[25] Summaries of the contributions were published in Halkın Sesi newspaper, 26 December 1990.

[26] Ali Nesim, ibid, 13.

[27] Draft Recommendation, Paragraphs 2 and 3

[28] Cuco Report, 27 April 1992, Doc. 6589, Paragraph 85

[29] Ahmet An, "Kıbrıs nereye gidiyor?" (Quo Vadis Cyprus?), İstanbul 2002, 324

[30] Yeni Düzen newspaper, 28 November 1997

[31] Ahmet An, "Kıbrıs’a Taşınan Türkiyeli Nüfusun Durumu” (The Status of the Mainland Turkish Population Transferred to Cyprus), Afrika newspaper, 3, 4, and 5 September 2003.

[32] Avrupa newspaper, 31 January 1998.

[33] Avrupa newspaper, 6 June 1998.

[34] Necdet Ergün, Kıbrıs Postası newspaper, 26 January 2017.

[35] Kıbrıs newspaper, 28 January 2017.

[36] Havadis newspaper, 21 November 2016.

[37] Kıbrıs newspaper, 25 April 2017.

[38] Havadis newspaper, 10 April 2017.

[39] Kıbrıs newspaper, 4 April 2017.

[40] Kıbrıs newspaper, 24 November 2016.

[41] Kıbrıs newspaper, 10 February 2017.

[42] Ahmet Djavit An, Eastern Mediterranean Policy Note, No. 8, 10 July 2016,Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs, University of Nicosia.

[43] Kıbrıs Postası newspaper, 2 November 2016.

[44] Sabah newspaper (İstanbul), 10 June 2015.

[45] Kıbrıs newspaper, 19 April 2017.

[46] Havadis newspaper, 24 April 2017.

[47] Kıbrıs newspaper, 27 September 2016.

[48] Kıbrıs newspaper, 7 March 2017.

[49] Advocate Barış Mamalı, Kıbrıs newspaper, 25 April 2017.

[50] Kıbrıs newspaper, 25 August 2016.

[51] Kıbrıs newspaper, 23 January 2017.

[52] Kıbrıs newspaper, 22 April 2017.

[53] Havadis newspaper, 9 March 2017.

[54] Kıbrıs newspaper, 27 November 2016.

[55] Milliyet newspaper (İstanbul), 18 March 2013.

[56] Yeni Bakış newspaper, 2 June 2017.

[57] Yeni Düzen newspaper, 9 April 2017.

(Published in the "Policy Paper Series", No. 2/2018  -  October 2018 by the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs, University of Nicosia)


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