Cyprus to revoke passports issued to Turkish Cypriot officials

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Cyprus’ cabinet on Monday said it would revoke 14 passports issued to Turkish Cypriot officials in the breakaway state of the island due to their ‘hostile’ actions over Varosha.

After the three-hour cabinet session, Cypriot government spokesman Marios Pelekanos did not specify which Turkish Cypriots officials were targeted.

He said the decision was linked to Turkish and Turkish Cypriot plans to open up the Cypriot ghost town of Varosha.

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said last month they would open the former resort, abandoned since Ankara’s 1974 invasion of the island.

“The cabinet decided to revoke, not renew or issue the Republic of Cyprus passports to a number of persons, who either participate in the pseudo-state’s cabinet or are members of the Varosha opening committee,” said Pelekanos.

He said the actions of these officials “undermine the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus.”

“Their specific hostile actions against the Republic of Cyprus promote the implementation of Turkey’s plans to change the status of Varosha, contrary to United Nations resolutions.”

Some senior officials, including Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, hold Republic of Cyprus passports, even though they administer a state only recognised by Turkey.

Turkish troops seized the northern third of Cyprus in 1974 in response to an aborted coup in Nicosia aimed at attaching the country to Greece.

The island has since been divided between the Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognised only by Turkey.

The European Union has told Turkey to reverse plans to open up the Cypriot ghost town of Varosha.

In July, the 27-nation bloc, which includes the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, condemned “Turkey’s unilateral steps and the unacceptable announcements”.

Cypriot media reported that Tatar, obtained a Cyprus passport in 2000 but said he never used it and would gladly give it up.

Turkish Cypriots are eligible for a Republic of Cyprus ID and passport.

According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi, the officials to have their passports revoked include Tatar, the head of the ruling coalition Ersan Saner and eight members of the “cabinet”.

Another four officials participate in the “committee for the opening of Varosha”.

Last month, Tatar said 3.5% of the fenced-off town of Varosha would be demilitarised.

In contrast to his predecessor Mustafa Akinci, Tatar is a hard-core supporter of a two-state solution to the Cyprus problem.

He was elected last October with the blessing and open support of Erdogan with 51.7% of the vote in an election that split the Turkish Cypriot community.

Tatar has argued that no progress can be achieved without accepting that there are two separate but equal states in Cyprus, two different people with a different religion, language, and culture.

Akinci supported a federal model and is a fierce critic of Ankara’s meddling in Cyprus.

According to Turkish Cypriot daily YeniDuzen, more than 160,000 Turkish Cypriots hold a Republic of Cyprus ID or passport.

There are 252,497 ‘TRNC’ citizens living in the north, according to Turkish Cypriot 2019 data.