Turkish Cypriot Leader Ersin Tatar said in an interview released on Monday that the north’s official population is 410,000.

Tatar was speaking to website My Kibris during his trip to the United Kingdom, and contravened statements from his ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel in October, wherein he had said he could not publicly say how many people live in the north.

Explaining the growth in population figures, he said “when we look at it, we have brothers who came and settled in the north after 1974. After living here 20 or 25 years, they had children and then grandchildren. You had to give them citizenship. We did, and we continue to do so.”

To this end, he said the situation was comparable in the Republic.

“The population of southern Cyprus before 1878 was below 100,000. It was 400,000 in 1969 and today it is between 850,000 and 900,000. The population of the south has increased a lot in recent years. They were brought from Greece, the Aegean Islands, and even the Black Sea,” he said.

Tatar also moved to reassure people that Turkey has no plans to advance southwards in Cyprus.

“The Turkish army has no eyes on the south. I want to underline this. The events in Gaza have given us the opportunity to once again explain that Turkey’s guarantee and the presence of Turkish soldiers on the island are a deterrent force,” he said.

He added, “it is obvious that there are those who say there is no need for Turkish soldiers here. After the latest events in Gaza, perhaps 99 per cent of the public sees Turkey’s effective guarantee as a deterrent force on the island.”

“I say deterrent power because Turkish soldiers have no interest in southern Cyprus. There has been no incident on the island for 50 years,” he said.