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‘Exceptional citizenships‘  being granted in the north

Turkish settlers in a village in northern Cyprus

The National Unity Party (UBP) – Democrat Party (DP) ‘government’ in the north granted ‘exceptional citizenship’ to 127 foreigners in the last six months, daily Yenidüzen has reported.

While the number of foreigners granted ‘citizenship’ in the north is known, the number of those recently granted by the ‘ministry of interior is not. Yenidüzen says no official information was provided.

According to the figures, 725 foreigners were granted ‘citizenship’ on the decision of the ‘ministry’ in 2012 and 2013. At the time, UBP single party ‘government’ was in power.

From 2014 to 2016, this number dropped to 446, a period where the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) was leading coalitions formed with DP and then UBP.

Former “interior minister” Teberrüken Uluçay claimed that the Turkish Cypriot authorities were now granting 45 to 50 new citizenships to foreigners every week.

According to the rules of granting ‘exceptional citizenship’, no permanent residency or an “act which indicates that the person has decided to settle” in the north is required.

Those who can be granted ‘exceptional citizenship’ are: offspring of those who lost their ‘TRNC citizenships’, people who can provide exceptional service in the field of science, arts, culture and trade and those who can invest in industry, trade and tourism.

Some include those who served in the Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT) after 1958, and the spouses and offspring of those who were granted citizenship.

According to the paper, the policy of the ‘government’ on ‘citizenships’ is causing problems within the Turkish Cypriot negotiating team.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and President Nicos Anastasiades had reached an agreement at the end of 2015 that distribution of population numbers following a solution would be 220,000 under Turkish Cypriots administration and 800,0000 under Greek Cypriot administration.

The ‘government’ when it was led by the CTP was under pressure from Ankara to grant citizenship to more than 20,000 Turkish nationals who were waiting in line.

With the UBP-DP coalition now in charge, more foreigners are expected to become new ‘citizens’ in the north. These parties are known to have granted citizenships to mainly Turkish nationals in the past in order to accumulate votes in the elections.

Hundreds of citizenships were granted during the Annan Plan period by the UBP-DP coalition. This included even those who did not reside on the island. The aim behind this some 12 years ago was to get more people who would reject a plan in the referendum.

It is believed that the UBP and DP are implementing the same policy with a similar aim. That is to register people who would reject a possible plan in the future.

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