Study dispels myth of expats occupying Turkey

September 20, 2008, Saturday/ 20:01:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
Speculation that foreigners, particularly Israelis, have been purchasing real estate in the Turkish-Syrian border province of Hatay, the Mediterranean province of Antalya and southeastern and eastern Anatolia regions in an attempt to begin an occupation of Turkey has been proven groundless by a new study.Sedat Laçiner, head of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK), noted that his organization has focused on the issue of expats in Turkey, which has been a topic of debate in the country for the last 20 years. He said ISRO/USAK has conducted extensive research on the topic, adding that many people with political interests have claimed that foreigners are purchasing large areas in Turkey to prepare the way for an occupation of Turkey.

"It is impossible to understand how one can claim this without conducting an extensive study on this. The first result in the study shows that this debate has become political and does not reflect the truth," he noted

The results of the study, titled "Integration of Expats in Turkish Society: Problems and Opportunities," were announced at a press conference in Ankara on Friday. Speaking during the press conference, Laçiner emphasized that there were some claims that Greeks had purchased more than 10,000 properties in Turkey. "If you accept this at face value, you may think that some parts of Turkey were annexed by Greece. The truth is that the majority of these sales were carried out with the Turks living in Western Thrace, which means the buyers are Turks; however, they are recorded in sales documents as Greek citizens. This is the source of these discussions," he explained.

Laçiner also emphasized that it was impossible for foreigners to buy real estate in Hatay as the quota of this province for foreign ownership had already been met. "We have not observed that Israelis buy large areas of land in southeastern Anatolia."

He noted that the calculations on land sold were done incorrectly. "If 10 apartments of 300 square meters were sold in a 10-floor building, evaluating this as a total of 3,000 square meters does not reflect the truth."

Laçiner also emphasized that Turkey is one of the countries that sells the least amount of land to foreigners. "Many countries are much more liberal than Turkey in this area, and they have earned a lot in this way. What's more, countries like England and Germany are leading the way in selling real estate to foreigners. Selling real estate to a foreigner does not mean this person will have full control of this real estate, but rather that he is under your control because the state has full authority over this real estate."

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