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‘Top secret’ plan for settling north post-invasion

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Part of a ‘top secret’ plan on how to settle the north of the island in the wake of the 1974 Turkish invasion was published in Turkish Cypriot media on Wednesday.

Although lacking in actual numbers of people that would be required to prop up the economy of the north, the document, published by Yeni Duzen lays out the sort of people that would be required to be brought in from Turkey.

The publication said this was the first time such a document, billed as a ‘regulation’, has been published and it shows which groups of people from Turkey who were brought in as settlers in 1975. It said more such documents were to come.

Yeni Duzen reported that while the Turkish Cypriots who relocated to the north after the invasion left behind 500,000 acres of property in the south, “there was 1.5 million acres of property waiting for them” in the north after Greek Cypriots fled the advancing Turkish troops in July and August 1974.

According to official Cyprus figures, 142,000 Greek Cypriots, close to 30 per cent of the population, and 45,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced, around 40 per cent of the then Turkish Cypriot population. Before July 1974, the actual number of Turkish Cypriots in the northern part was estimated at 71,000.

“The land and property acquired in the north of Cyprus was very large in relation to the Turkish Cypriot population,” Yeni Duzen said. This left a major labour shortfall.

According to the publication, in 1975 Turkey, at the request of the ‘Turkish Federated State of Cyprus’, created a plan, which aimed to “cover the lack of labour with workers from Turkey in rapid and planned ways”.

The ‘regulation’ defined how this workforce would be selected, evaluated and grouped, and the methods to be followed for the plan.

“The workforce to be sent from Turkey to the Turkish part of Cyprus for employment in agriculture, industry, tourism and other service sectors will consist of the following groups,” it said, adding citizens of Cypriot origin, Turkish nationals or Turkish Cypriots currently living and working in Turkey, farmers and agricultural workers, skilled workers in industry, tourism and other service industries, craftsmen, artisans, investors and business owners, specialists and technicians in various professions, and unskilled workers.

People were to be selected should preferably be Turkish citizens, people whose mother tongue was Turkish, “the head of the family should be literate and have completed his military service”. Settlers were to be not over 45 years old and in good health.

It is difficult to pin down the number of Turkish settlers in the north. Cyprus government figures used to put the number at 100,000 or more. According to an article published in Zaman in August 1977, almost 40,000 Turkish settlers were brought into the north between 1975 and 1977. By 1998 at least one-third of the population in northern Cyprus consisted of mainland Turkish settlers, according to a report to the UK parliament.

 

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