Turkish Cypriots claim passport ban ‘racist’

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Nicosia’s decision to rescind the Cyprus passports of 14 officials in the breakaway north in response to opening up fenced-off Varosha was slammed as ‘racist’ by the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, whose name is on the banned list, said on Tuesday in a written statement, “the move lacks legal validity, is racist and goes against human rights”.

He declared to never using his Republic of Cyprus passport, calling it ‘useless’ to him.

Tatar said the Cyprus government decision distinguished between the people, something that cannot be accepted.

“Nevertheless, this is an issue that concerns our people and our community…who will face various injustices when it comes to travel,” said Tatar.

Tatar argued the Cypriot passport is a right arising from the fact the Republic of Cyprus is a common republic of “two peoples”.

The cabinet decision also drew reaction from the head of the ruling coalition in the north, Ersan Saner, on the list of officials to have their passports revoked.

Saner described the decision as “hostile” and urged the government to reconsider.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot leading opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP), Tufan Erhurman, on social media said the decision is “legal nonsense”.

Former Turkish Cypriot negotiator and head of the People’s Party (HP) Kudret Ozersay said the decision is “a sign of weakness and bears no weight…the Greek Cypriot leadership cannot find justice through petty politics”.

The government on Monday decided to revoke the passports of 14 Turkish Cypriot officials whose actions “undermine the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus.”

“The cabinet decided to revoke, not renew or issue 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 government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos.

“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,” he added.

He did not name the officials who were targeted under the passport ban.

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

The government’s decision follows Turkey’s and the Turkish Cypriot side’s decision to open 3.5% of the ghost city of Varosha, which was abandoned after the Turkish invasion in 1974.

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