NEWS

Nicosia sees rise in settlers

Nicosia yesterday accused Ankara of escalating the settlement of mainland Turks in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus in an attempt to alter the island’s demographics. In past months, the number of Turkish settlers has increased by some 30,000, putting the total settler population at around 150,000 – about twice the number of native Turkish Cypriots, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said. Chrysostomides said the Turkish settlers were being housed in Greek Cypriot-owned houses. «This colonization, and the violent change of the demographic character of the population of Cyprus, is contrary to every basic aspect of international law and amounts to a war crime.» The spokesman also accused the new Turkish-Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, of allowing «an increase, to an unbelievable degree, in the pillage of Greek-Cypriot property,» in the north during his term as administration leader. Yesterday, Talat appointed a close aide, Ferdi Sabit Soyer, as new administration chief. (Combined reports)