As priority talks on the Cyprus issue proceed, Lobby for Cyprus wishes respectfully to draw your attention to some key matters that should be on the agenda: illegal immigration and the rights of the refugees.
Conservative estimates put the number of illegal immigrants/colonists in the occupied part of Cyprus at 12–15% of the entire population of the Republic of Cyprus (taken as a sovereign whole). This amounts to at least 100,000 persons (mainly from Anatolia) without any historical, ancestral or cultural links to Cyprus and having been brought in since 1974 by the Denktash regime to serve as an army of cheap labour. There is evidence that in the 1980s whole villages in Anatolia were press-ganged by the Turkish army and effectively expelled to Cyprus so that Denktash and his cohorts could have hands working in the orchards stolen from the Greek Cypriots and to keep him in power with their votes.
Given the reality that these illegal immigrants/colonists have so distorted the demography of the occupied area and Cyprus as a whole, their unwanted and unwelcome presence (to Greek Cypriots and indigenous Turkish Cyprus alike) should be addressed in an honest and forthright manner. It has been established in law (and re-confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights) that the refugees have the inalienable right to reclaim and return to their stolen lands and property. Therefore, logically, the colonists who currently occupy many of the homes and lands of the refugees must be either deported or repatriated.
The illegal status of the colonists is beyond question – they are, simply, illegal immigrants and the laws of the EU must now be brought to bear as they would in Britain, Germany, France or any other EU member. After all, no other country in the federal body or with candidate status would be expected to take a tolerant view of illegal immigration, especially when it constituted such an enormous demographic change. Failure by the EU in particular to acknowledge and address this problem would open it to the charge of being in contempt of its own laws.
We, in Lobby argue that, as a matter of principle the massive demographic changes brought about by the influx of colonists, is unacceptable. Even the indigenous Turkish Cypriots are voting with their feet and leaving the occupied area because they feel they have been taken over by outsiders who now outnumber them.
Deportation is a legal right, but Lobby believes that the international community can and must use its good offices to set up a relief fund to assist the illegal immigrants in their repatriation. For at least eight years we have argued that compensation funds intended to induce the refugees to forgo their lands against their will, should instead be used to facilitate the humane repatriation of these colonists to Turkey and the Balkans. The financial package should have at its core a straight, one-off payment of $5,000 (US) for each family, which we estimate has five to six members on average. Total cost of repatriation would run from $85–100 million US dollars, considerably more than our estimates in the earlier days when there were fewer illegal immigrants, but even so, the total cost is well within the resources of the EU and the US. The wider package might also include grants of livestock and land, as the Anatolians are resettled in the eastern rural provinces from which they came.
The package must be assembled as soon as possible under the auspices of the United Nations with the international community footing the bill. It must also be pointed out that the one-off payment to the colonists is more than generous given the levels of wages and living standards in the occupied area and in Turkey.
The package, taken as a whole, works out immeasurably less expensive than the resources required to compensate the refugees for surrendering their lands and homes at market value, and for the loss of use and enjoyment during the last 27 years or so.This would cost billions.