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Government issues 1,200 passports for Turkish Cypriots
2003-01-10 12:39:26

Nicosia, Jan 10 (CNA) -- More than 1,200 passports have been issued to Turkish Cypriots recently, Interior Minister Andreas Panagiotou has revelead.

Panagiotou said an increase of applications by Turkish Cypriots to obtain a Cypriot passport had been expected after the decision by EU leaders in Copenhagen in December to accept Cyprus and nine other countries as full members in May 2004.|

He said the government maintains a complete archive on Turkish Cypriots and can find out very easily whether an applicant is a Turkish Cypriot or not.

''As far as we are concerned, these people are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and are being treated as such'', he added.

Most of the Turkish Cypriots live in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

Some hundreds Turkish Cypriots remained in the free areas of the Republic or have been moved from the occupied part.

Thousands of native Turkish Cypriots have left the occupied areas for Turkey, Britain, Australia and elsewhere, because of the unbearable conditions created by the occupation regime and the presence of thousands of Turkish colonist settlers and Turkish soldiers.

Some 80.000 Turkish settlers in addition to 35.000 Turkish troops have outnumbered the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied territory.

Some 120.000 Turkish Cypriots, making 18 per cent of the island's population, lived in this east Mediterranean island before the 1974 Turkish invasion. Their number decreased to some 60.000 according to Turkish Cypriot estimations.

CNA/EC/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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