President refutes ‘racism’ in passports row

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President Nicos Anastasiades refuted claims that his cabinet’s decision to revoke 14 Cyprus passports held by Turkish Cypriot officials was racist and a violation of human rights.

The President was drawn into the public exchange of words on Wednesday after Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar claimed the move was discriminatory.

In a written statement, President Anastasiades shot down Tatar’s argument.

“I would like to remind Mr Tatar that he personally said in public statements, and I quote ‘…we are of a different people. We speak Turkish, our religion is Islam, our motherland is Turkey’”.

Anastasiades dismissed Tatar’s allegations, saying he remains committed to the solution to the Cyprus problem that is inclusive.

He argued that contrary to the Tatar’s allegations “the Republic of Cyprus, respecting the rights of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, issued 97,000 travel documents while those who possess identification cards, which confirms their Cypriot nationality, exceed 110,000”.

He said the numbers of travel documents and ID cards issued, are standalone proof that the republic is not discriminating against the Turkish Cypriots.

“The revocation of passports strictly concerns a restricted number of persons who with their actions undermine the independence, the sovereignty and status of the Republic of Cyprus,” said Anastasiades.

The President said that Tatar’s argument the Republic of Cyprus is the common Republic of two communities and as such the passports are a natural right derived from the treaty of Establishment of the Republic proves his point.

He, however, pointed out that Tatar contradicts himself in claiming are “two peoples” in Cyprus and his support for a two-state solution “which flagrantly violates the agreements which he is citing”.

“The Greek Cypriot community insists and is completely ready to accept the restoration of the constitutional order with Turkish Cypriots returning to the executive, legislative, judicial authority and the other services of the Republic, based on the provisions of the 1960 Constitution, and the simultaneous start of negotiations to determine the areas which each community will have the right to administer, according to UN resolutions”.

The Turkish Cypriot leader, 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”.

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

Nicosia on Monday decided to rescind the Cyprus passports of 14 officials in the breakaway north, including Tatar and members of the ruling coalition in the Turkish occupied areas.

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.

Four members of a committee set up by the regime in the north to facilitate the opening of Varosha have also been placed on the list.

The European Union has told Turkey to reverse plans to open up the resort of Varosha.