on the Situation of Minorities in
The people of
There are not any accurate estimates of the
number of Greeks and Turks during the period of the three centuries of the
Ottoman rule. The first census is conducted in 1881, three years after Cyprus
was ceded by the Ottomans to the
The British colonial authorities subsequently
published regular demographic statistics.
During the Brutish rule there was a gradual decrease in the percentage
of the Turkish Cypriot community, mainly, as it seems, due to the immigration
of Turkish Cypriots to other areas of the
After the partition of the island in 1974, is practically
impossible to have accurate figures of the total population. Censuses have been replaced by estimates as far
as concerns the population in the north.
The Department of Statistics and Research of the Republic, at the year
1974, set the total population of
In the year 1996, according to the official government of Cyprus (see report submitted to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities), the percentages were 83.9% for GC, 12% for the TC, 0.6% of for the Maronites, 0.4% for the Armenians and 0.1% for the Latins. The percentages given for the Turkish Cypriots are estimated taking into account Turkish Cypriot emigration and the comparable rate of annual natural increase of the population.
As it is mentioned in Laakso’s Report, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in June 2003, ‘despite the lack of consensus on the exact figures, all parties concerned, admit that Turkish nationals have been systematically arriving in the Northern part of the island. At the same time, continuous outflow of the indigenous Turkish Cypriot population from the northern part may be observed. In consequence, the settlers have outnumbered the indigenous Turkish Cypriot population’.
As it is noted in the report the estimated number of Turkish Cypriots in 2001 was 87,600 whereas the estimate of settlers was 115,000.
According to the Constitution(article 28) ‘every person shall enjoy all the rights and liberties provided for in this Constitution without any direct or indirect discrimination against any person on the ground of his community, race, religion, language, sex, political or other conviction, national or social descend’. Nonetheless, it also foresees (article 2), as pointed above, that all Cypriots are deemed to belong to either Greek community or the Turkish community.
The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention which Cyprus had ratified in 1996, expressed the view that this constitutional provision is not compatible with Article 3 of the Framework Convention, under which every person belonging to a national minority shall have the right freely to choose whether to be treated as such and the Council’s of Europe Committee of Ministers concluded in February 2002 that this issue has to be addressed. Nonetheless, it is also recognised that a review of the Constitution at this stage could be inappropriate due to the de facto situation on the island with a substantial part of the country not being under Government control along with the fact that a number of provisions in the Cyprus Constitution are defined as unchangeable (article 182).
It has to be noted also that the 1960 Constitution accorded equal status to the Greek and Turkish languages (articles 3 and 18) which were the two official languages of the state.
Minority Rights Freedoms
The members of the three minorities enjoy the same political rights as being members of the Greek Community. In addition, they also elect non-voting representatives to the House of Representatives who attend as observers and advice on religious and educational matters affecting their group.
The five major religious groups receive government subsidies and are exempted from taxes. The right of free education is safeguarded also for the members of the minorities and the state offers financial assistance. Most of the students coming from these minorities choose to attend Greek Cypriot schools. However for those choosing to attend Maronite, Armenian or Latin schools, the state provides subsidies for private minority schools. Similarly the state subsidizes the renovation of churches. In addition all priests, regardless religion are on the government’s payroll. There is also free access to radio broadcasting for minorities.
The Three Minority Communities
i) The Maronites
Maronites have lived in
Nowadays, there are only four Maronite villages
in the area being under Turkish control and there is
only a number of 200 people living there.
These villages are Kormakits, Karpasia , Asomatos
and Santa Marina. In the south, most of
Cypriot Maronites are mixed with the general population. The total number of Maronites in
It is worth mentioning that in 2001
ii) The Armenians
The presence of Armenians in
Throughout the ages Armenians have tended to
live around their churches and schools, which are typically built next to each
other. Currently there are three
Armenian churches and primary schools in
The Armenian language has always played a
significant role in the preservation of Armenian national identity. Therefore Armenian community in
Iii) The Latins
The Latin community in
The presence of this group in