Since its 1974 invasion, Turkey has been implementing a policy of bringing in thousands of settlers from Anatolia to settle in the occupied area.
Settlers are estimated at 160.000-170.000 (2011). The settlers together with more than 40.000 Turkish soldiers of the occupying army, unfortunately, outnumber the native Turkish Cypriots. It is estimated that about 43.000 settlers were brought from Turkey into the occupied areas of Cyprus during the period 2004-2005.
Turkey’s colonization policy aims at:
- Altering the demographic structure of Cyprus, so that the Turkish-speaking population nears that of Greek Cypriots (before the Turkish invasion, Turkish Cypriots constituted 18% of the population). This could “justify” inordinate claims of the Turkish side regarding territorial arrangements and governance.
- Exercising control over political life in the occupied part. To this effect, the settlers are granted “citizenship”, “voting rights”, Greek Cypriot properties and work permits with low wages, thereby giving rise to unemployment among Turkish Cypriots and forcing them to emigrate. Settlers have also organized themselves in political parties.
The colonization policy has been condemned in various resolutions of the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and other international organizations.
In its 1992 Report, the Council of Europe underlines that as a result of the settlement of thousands of foreigners brought in from Turkey, the demographic composition of Cyprus has been radically altered. It is also added that the presence of settlers constitutes an additional obstacle to a peaceful, negotiated solution of the Cyprus problem. In another Report (2003), it is stressed that the crime of colonization modifies in various ways the demography of the indigenous population and hinders the solution of the problem.
The Parliamentary Committee of the Council of Europe, based on the above Reports, recommended the conduct of a population census in Cyprus, which was never implemented due to the denial of the occupation regime.