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Government dismisses settlement report as ‘obsolete’

The government on Tuesday waved off as outdated a report by daily Simerini which suggested no Greek Cypriots would be able to reside permanently in the north post-settlement.

The daily obtained and ran a confidential document pertaining to citizenship rights in a federated Cyprus.

Titled Joint paper on citizenship and dated November 19, 2015, the document was a product of the reunification talks up until that time.

Parsing the document, Simerini asserted that restrictions would apply in perpetuity not only on political rights (weighted voting) but also on the right to establishment.

But hitting back in a statement, deputy government spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos said the document was drafted a year ago and was therefore largely obsolete.

Since then, Papadopoulos said, several of the positions outlined in the paper have changed drastically. At the time of the document, he added, the two sides had not reached definitive convergences on the implementation of the four fundamental freedoms (including the free movement of persons and capital), whereas now they have.

Papadopoulos went on to point out that parts of the original document had been highlighted in three colours, each colour corresponding to the convergences, to the Greek Cypriot positions, and to the Turkish Cypriot positions.

But because Simerini had obtained a black-and-white photocopy of the document – where the colours are not visible – the paper’s conclusions were flawed.

In other words, the document did not represent a definitive agreement on the issues relating to citizenship.

The ‘joint paper’ listed the criteria for those who would become the citizens of united Cyprus upon entry into force of a comprehensive settlement agreement:

“Those persons who were, or were eligible to become, Cypriot citizens on 21 December 1963 and their descendants; the spouses and children of the above persons, as regulated by relevant law; those who have become citizens after 21 December 1963, their spouses and children, as recognised and regulated by either side, consistent with the settlement agreement.”

On the right of abode, the document noted that this right shall not carry the weight of legal domicile (permanent residence).

Elsewhere, the paper stated that in order to be able to reside in one’s place of origin, if that place currently belongs to the other community, one must acquire the internal citizenship of that community or constituent state. One of the main criteria for eligibility is for the person to be fluent in the language of the constituent state in which he or she wishes to reside.

Another criterion is that one must have verified family ties in relation to the internal citizenship one is seeking, such as a spouse or other family member possessing that internal citizenship.

According to Simerini, these criteria would effectively bar Greek Cypriots from residing permanently in the north, thus satisfying the Turkish Cypriot side’s insistence on guaranteed majorities in terms of population and property ownership.

Under the same document, each constituent state in a federated Cyprus would have the right to institute measures to safeguard its identity. To this end, each constituent state would have the power to set a ceiling on the right of establishment of citizens from the other constituent state.

In addition, following the 20th year after a comprehensive settlement, each constituent state would have the right to take measures ensuring that at least 80 per cent of those possessing that internal citizenship would have as their native tongue the official language of that constituent state.

Earlier, on Monday, president Nicos Anastasiades said that the Turkish Cypriot side previously did not agree to granting Greek Cypriots the right to legal domicile – and the political rights conferred by this – in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.

Now, however, the Turkish Cypriots have accepted that Greek Cypriots will be granted legal domicile in the north; however, not all will enjoy full political rights.

Whereas the Turkish Cypriot side has accepted legal domicile in principle, it is seeking certain restrictions.

Commenting on the document revealed by Simerini, the Solidarity Movement said it seemed the president has agreed that all settlers will be allowed to stay in the north after a solution.

The party called for a population census to be carried out on the island by an independent organisation, such as the UN, to ensure that the agreed 4:1 population ratio corresponded to reality.

Their implication was that the government was inflating the size of the population in the south (cited as 800,000) to artificially accept 220,000 for the north’s population, thereby including thousands of ineligible Turkish settlers.

Responding, ruling Disy said that such proposals came a little too late.

In 2004, Disy said, the Greek Cypriot side had agreed that the population in the north voting in the referendum would also acquire citizenship in a reunited Cyprus.

“How can we now deny this population, which is being proposed by the Turkish Cypriot side, from gaining citizenship and nationality in a united Cyprus?”

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