What is the ‘‘Project for Turkish Cypriots Living Abroad’’ about? This project is not a Project aimed at determining the number of Turkish Cypriots living abroad. In other words, this project is not about a population research. Furthermore, it is not a project designed with the objective of enabling the return all of our citizens living abroad to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Our government does not have an intention to do so. This project involves, on the other hand, steps that aims to facilitate the return of those who intend to return or have decided to return to the TRNC.
The Project’s Objectives:
- To strengthen the existing ties between Turkish Cypriots living in the TRNC and those living abroad,
- To increase the frequency of visits, regardless of their purpose, to and from the TRNC,
- To increase the volume of investments in the TRNC
- To facilitate the return to their country of those who wish to do so,
- To strengthen the sense of belonging of our youth living abroad and so that Turkish Cypriot identity could be passed on to future generations
Within the context of this Project, the 13 point road map which includes steps and thoughts formulated in line with your requests is as follows:
- There is a ‘‘deed transfer fee’’ applicable to the sale and purchase of all immovable property in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. An exemption already applies in this context on a one time basis and everyone can benefit from this on a one time basis. We are considering an additional fee exemption for our youth living abroad who wish to purchase immovable property as a secondary home. This will also apply to those youngsters who are considering to permanently move to the TRNC.
- Exemption to deed transfer fees applicable to the purchase of both a land and a house for the benefit of families and citizens who have decided to permanently return to the country is currently under consideration.
- In order to avoid our youth from emigrating abroad, we are considering measures that will facilitate their settling down in a given region, through a social housing project and not by way of distributing land. We will also include our youth living abroad into a social housing scheme. Whereas in some instances social housing can be built directly by the state and sold to those concerned with long term payment facilitations, on some others preferential loans can be provided for those who wish to build such houses themselves in certain areas. This part of the project shall be implemented by the Ministry of Interior.
- There are considerations as to the kind of exemptions that may apply for the private vehicles and belongings such as furniture of Turkish Cypriots returning home. In order to avoid any misuse of such exemptions, as has been the case in the past, a number of measures which will involve revising regulations regarding exemptions of custom duties and funds will be put into effect.
- There shall be investment incentives for our citizens living abroad. The current legislation provides for a number of incentives. One such incentive is tax allowance which refers to exemption from investment tax until profit is achieved. This calculated over a hundred and two hundred per cent of the initial investment expenditure. The aforementioned, two hundred per cent allowance applies, in particular, in areas which have been defined as priority development areas such as Lefke, Güzelyurt and İskele. We are considering amendments to this legislation in a way to enable Turkish Cypriots living abroad to benefit from these investment incentives.
- We are considering exemptions applicable to customs duties and funds in cases whereby an investment will require the importation of machinery and equipment. In this context, up to zero per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) which amounts to the abolition of VAT when buying imported or domestic machinery and equipment is envisaged. Furthermore, Turkish Cypriots living abroad will be given priority within the context of long-term lease of state owned lands and exemptions may also apply to contributions. In case of similar investments borrowing against collateral, reduction of relevant stamp fees and registration duties are envisaged. Finally, a tax exemption of twenty to thirty per cent can be envisaged for a certain period of time following the commencement of the activities of newly built facilities or the start-up of the new investment.
- As the government, we are considering to put into effect incentives whereby young Turkish Cypriots who have never been to the TRNC could visit their homeland by way of complimentary plane tickets. We shall develop a program which will enable and provide for funding for the participation of Turkish Cypriot youngsters living in UK in the youth camps organised once a year in the TRNC. The purpose of such an initiative is to encourage interaction and bonding between Turkish Cypriot youth living in the TRNC and those in the UK.
- We will develop a special scholarship programme to enable Turkish Cypriots who have attained a certain success abroad and who are willing, to study in TRNC universities. The objective of this program will be to strengthen their emotional bond and to further familiarise themselves with the TRNC.
- Young people who are above the age of 12 or who have left TRNC before the year 2009, and have not returned before the age of compulsory military service are eligible for a ‘special status’. The ‘Special Status Regulation’ involves paying a certain amount of money and being totally exempted from military service or paying a certain amount of money and doing the military service only for a month or not doing any payment and doing the military service only for four months. On the other hand, it is also possible for such youngsters who have not already performed their compulsory military service duty for four months to visit TRNC for one hundred and twenty days without facing any problem. Our citizens occasionally face difficulties whereby they are obliged to postpone their flights for one day in order to pay a visit to the Recruitment Office (Asal Şube) to finalise certain outstanding issues. We are aware of these difficulties and we are determined to improve the situation.
In this context, we are looking into the possibility of having a Recruitment Office (Asal Şube) branch in Ercan International Airport. In addition to this, we are also working on the ways and means to better inform our citizens on the legislation in force and its implementation with regard to the military service.
- Currently in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus there are a number of partially finished or unfinished idle buildings. As the government, we are currently making preparations to amend relevant legislation as far as those which are not subject to a legal dispute are concerned. We are working on a system which will allow a kind of ‘expropriation’ of such properties for public purposes and leasing them for a long term to those who wish to finish the construction of such buildings for the purpose of using, managing or operating them.
- In the past, passengers used to stay on board during connecting flights through Turkey in between the TRNC and the UK. However, a while ago, a new regulation has been put into effect that made it compulsory for passengers to leave the plane and once again go through security checks. According to the British Government and the Civil Aviation Authority, the aforementioned regulation is due to security concerns. However, there is no sense in continuing this practice as far as flights from the UK towards the TRNC are concerned. We will start an initiative to solve this problem.
- In order to be more informed, to maintain our ties and raise awareness about each other, we envisage news items as well as special programs dedicated to life in London to be broadcasted in Bayrak Radio Broadcasting Corporation (BRTK) television and radio channels. For instance, such informative broadcasts can be done through ‘The agenda of the Turkish Cypriots in London’ that will be broadcasted at least twice a week.
- In order to render consular service more efficient and expeditious in the Office of the TRNC Representative in London, we are looking into increasing the number of our staff.