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Immigration rules made to measure

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One can only imagine what goes on in the minds of civil servants working at the immigration department.

Perhaps, not much, judging from the way ‘golden passports’ were never vetted in the past, the 150 or so sham marriages that have only now been discovered, without prosecuting any public official, or how Turkish Cypriot lawyer Akan Kursat got his travel document and no one bothered to check if he was on a stop-list or wanted by Interpol.

President Christodoulides announced a package of confidence building measures recently, aimed at appeasing concerns among Turkish Cypriots, one of which was to award citizenship to 14 Turkish Cypriots of mixed marriages, as announced this week.

By law, any child with one of the parents being a Cypriot, is entitled to citizenship, with an estimated 10,000 Turkish Cypriots now eligible.

At the same time, the government of Cyprus has been bending over backwards to align itself with the rest of the western world in order to provide residency and facilities to Ukrainians fleeing their country, while at the same time refugees from Syria, the Middle East and northern Africa are regarded as being inferior and not even considered for a visa, let alone a work permit.

The Cyprus government also boasts that it has drastically reduced the number of returns, mainly of boat people. But as was the case last month, the authorities in Beirut refused to allow such a boatload of migrants back to its shore, with Lebanon probably carrying the biggest burden of accommodating refugees from Syria for the past two decades, with no financial assistance.

That money goes to Turkey, with the blessing of the civilised European states, making itself necessary to certain countries, with Brussels not realising that it has been duped, as Ankara uses those funds for other purposes, while sitting on the sidelines in the conflict and on good terms with both Ukraine and Russia.

Some assume that creating a deputy ministry for migration will solve the problems and case files that have been piling up at the immigration department. However, the problem there has nothing to do with the overwhelming work of processing applications, but is rather an attitude issue and one of tackling racism, with officials going by the book whenever it suits them, and bending the rules when it comes to friends in high places.

The government and politicians should realise that there is a major demographic shift underway on this island, and that if nothing is done, Greek Cypriots could in a few years become a minority in their own land.

There are cases pending at the immigration department that have been wrongly rejected and should be reviewed, especially when it comes to mixed marriages, just as the Turkish Cypriots are being rewarded.

A change is necessary with a more people-centric approach.