Cyprus: A dispute erupts with the revocation of passports of Turkish Cypriot officials | Cyprus

A war of words broke out Cyprus The divided island’s two ethnic communities are sparring over the Greek Cypriot government’s decision to revoke the passports of senior Turkish Cypriot officials.

Ersin Tatar, who heads the Turkish-controlled north and is among those affected, described the policy as an “attack” on attempts to find a solution to the division of the country. Previously he had called the move “racist” and “outdated”.

“Turkish Cypriots owe no loyalty to the Greek Cypriot administration, and some Turkish Cypriots are using this travel document out of necessity, without prejudice to their inherent sovereign rights of equality,” he told the Guardian. “The Greek Cypriot side’s exploitation of this issue is an insult… and an assault on the efforts made to find a settlement.”

The Tatar, who was born in 1960 when the former British colony gained independence, has always held the title Cyprus The passport although he was explicit in his refusal to recognize the Republic as a legitimate state.

After decades of failed reunification attempts, the self-proclaimed nationalist has upped the ante, Pushing for a two-state solution to divide the Mediterranean island.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when an Athens-backed coup was called for with the aim of uniting with Greece Turkey to invade. Barbed wire and ditches run through the heart of Nicosia, the only European Union capital left divided.

Last month, with the support of Ankara, Tatar announced that his self-declared administration would go ahead with its plans to open part of a closed city. FaroshaIt was abandoned by the Greek Cypriots as Turkish forces advanced but has been a key component of peace talks since then. Turkey, which publicly defended the election of the hardliner – to the consternation of moderates who support a bi-regional and bi-communal union – is the only country to have recognized the breakaway region.

The internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government announced the controversial decision on Monday, arguing that the actions of the targeted Turkish Cypriots have undermined the country’s unity.

“Their actions and actions undermine the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus,” said its spokesperson, Marius Pelicanos, adding that the authorities will cancel, fail to renew or refuse to issue passports of the 14 individuals who participated. in the “pseudo state government” or participated in efforts to reopen Varosha.

President Nicos Anastasiades rejected accusations of discrimination, saying the Republic of Cyprus had issued 97,000 passports and more than 110,000 identity cards to Turkish Cypriots “in relation to [their] rights” and confirmation of Cypriot citizenship.

In a written statement, the Greek Cypriot leader made it clear that the policy would only affect a “limited number” of people: “Mr Tatar claims that the decision is racist and that it is presumed to be a violation of human rights since [it] distinguish between citizens. In response, I would like to remind Mr. Tatar that he himself, in public statements, said: “We are a different race. We speak Turkish, our religion is Islam, our homeland is Turkey.” The Republic of Cyprus by their actions and not, of course, all our Turkish Cypriot citizens.”

But Anastasiades is facing growing criticism from Greek Cypriots. The main left-wing opposition Akl party described the measure as a populist move by a government still struggling with revelations of making billions of euros through a citizenship scheme that, before it was dismantled, sold thousands of passports to people bent on acquiring EU citizenship, including Russian oligarchs and politicians the corrupt.

“Instead of the president focusing on resuming negotiations, he indulges in a game of statements and impressions with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar,” the party’s spokesperson said on Thursday. “The only thing Mr. Anastasiades achieves is to bolster the stalemate in the Cyprus problem and that is butter on the bread of Turkey’s dichotomous politics.”

In a tweet, former Cypriot Foreign Minister and longtime diplomat Erato Kozakou Markolis denounced the policy as “short-sighted and impulsive”, saying: “They remove the only element of proof that Turkey’s regime officials recognize the Republic of Cyprus.” . “

Conversations aimed at reconciliation It collapsed in July 2017, with an attempt to find common ground to relaunch the operation proved futile earlier this year. Pro-reunification groups have described the controversial decision as a reciprocal move aimed at appeasing the nationalists, which will ultimately hurt all Cypriots.

“The deterioration of the status quo in Cyprus not only deepens division but also drags us into uncharted waters of uncertainty and instability,” UniteCyprusNow said.

“While the Turkish Cypriot leader and the Turkey-backed coalition are clearly violating UN Security Council resolutions by trying to open the fenced city of Varosha… the decision to abolish the passports of the Republic of Cyprus provides ammunition for advocates of secession in Cyprus and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.”

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