Only some 40,000 settlers from mainland Turkey will remain on the island post-settlement, President Nicos Anastasiades clarified on Monday.
Anastasiades added that he “misspoke” a day earlier, when he told reporters that some 90,000 Turkish settlers in mixed marriages, or children of mixed marriages, would stay on in a federated state.
He attributed his faux pas to fatigue, as he had just come out of a four-hour meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
On Sunday, the president had said that based on figures on hand, there were currently 117,545 Turkish Cypriots who have registered as citizens of the Cyprus Republic.
But, he had added, there was a number of Turkish Cypriots who had not, and this has been calculated at around 12,500 people, bringing the total Turkish Cypriots to around 130,000. The maximum number of settlers possible to be in mixed marriages or are children of mixed marriages, were no more than 90,000, he had said.
His remarks drew angry reaction from opposition parties in the south, who read the comments as meaning that the president had agreed to more settlers remaining in the north post-settlement than was agreed under the last peace plan, in 2004.
Coming back on Monday, following more talks with Akinci, Anastasiades said that in addition to the 130,000 Turkish Cypriots who have registered as citizens of the Cyprus Republic, there are an estimated 25,000 living in England who are ‘citizens’ of the breakaway regime in the north.
That brought to 155,000 the number of the Turkish Cypriot population for whom it has been agreed will live in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state in a reunified Cyprus, he said.
“And if we calculate that back in 2004 mixed marriages, and their children, were around 18,000, which would bring that number up to 25,000 today, then adding these [the 25,000] to the 155,000” would tally to 180,000.
Thus, Anastasiades said, the remainder would come to 40,000 [220,000 minus 180,000].
The leaders have fixed citizenship figures at 220,000 for Turkish Cypriots and just over 800,000 for Greek Cypriots under a solution.
It seems Anastasiades had fumbled the numbers on Sunday, when he quoted 90,000 as those settlers being in mixed marriages or children of mixed marriages, when he wanted to say 25,000.
Moving beyond his ‘mistake’, the president stressed that, post-settlement, a Turkish national would be granted Cyprus citizenship only once four Greek nationals had obtained citizenship, maintaining a 4 to 1 ratio.
Despite Anastasiades’ verbal blunder, opposition parties – particularly Diko – lashed out at the apparent explosion of Turkish settlers in the north who would be ‘legalised’ under a peace deal – perhaps forgetting that in 2004 those same parties had rejected the Annan Plan, which would inevitably lead to a continued influx of settlers from mainland Turkey.
Under the 2004 UN peace plan – rejected by Greek Cypriots and approved by Turkish Cypriots in separate simultaneous referendums – up to 50,000 Turkish settlers would have been allowed to stay on the island.
However, just prior to the referendums, the Turkish Cypriot side was able to come up with a list of only 41,000 names of settlers who would have stayed on the island – even less than the 50,000 threshold agreed then.