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Papapetrou: Government has detailed information on settlers
2002-11-07 12:41:13

Nicosia, Nov 7 (CNA) ? Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou dismissed today claims by a Turkish Cypriot politician that evidence on the number of illegal Turkish settlers in occupied Cyprus has been distorted.

The spokesman stressed that the government has detailed information about the number of the settlers, their origins and their place of residence since they arrived in the occupied areas.|

Mehmet Ali Talat, Republican Turkish Party leader, claimed Wednesday that the evidence gathered by the Finnish Rapporteur at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the number of Turkish settlers in the occupied north was ''distorted''.

''I do not agree with Talat's assessment and I would refer him to his party's mouthpiece, 'Yeni Duzen' to find out the information which we have too", Papapetrou said.

Talat said Wednesday reports that the Turkish Cypriot community is becoming a minority in its own area because of the increasing number of Turkish settlers were ''distorted'', they amounted to ''misinformation and a propaganda issue.''

He also said Finnish Rapporteur Jaako Laakso had gathered all evidence from the Greek Cypriot side only.

Papapetrou said the government knows the exact number of the settlers, their place of origin, the time of arrival in Cyprus and the place they have settled.

This information, the spokesman added, has already been passed on to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash during the UN direct-talks.

There are now 129.000 illegal Turkish settlers in occupied Cyprus and only about 75.000 indigenous Turkish Cypriots as opposed to about 120.000 prior to the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. In addition to these figures, Turkey maintains a 35,000 strong military contingent.

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