It is unfair for Cyprus to be singled out for its citizenship-by-investment programme, while other EU countries have similar schemes in place, President Nicos Anastasiades has said.
“It cannot be that Cyprus is being targeted, with this criticism being echoed by certain advocates within Cyprus for political expediencies,” the president said in an interview with TV One channel on Monday night.
“There was much clamouring for publishing the lists of the providers, and they were given.
“And where was all the attention focused? On my former law firm.”
He added that of the thousands of applications for the citizenship-by-investment programme filed by various companies and law firms on behalf of foreign nationals, only 41 were filed by the Nicos Chr. Anastasiades & Partners law firm.
“I told the [interior] minister to release the data [on the firms] so that we can finish with this story. And I cannot abide insinuations when these are unjustified.
“Instead of appreciating the benefits to the country’s economy, we are looking to target political personalities or politically exposed persons, regardless whether this serves the interests of people who write for the Guardian or other newspapers accusing the Republic of Cyprus.”
Last week saw the release of a list of law companies and accounting firms acting on behalf of foreign nationals seeking Cypriot naturalisation via the citizenship-by-investment scheme.
It showed that the Nicos Chr. Anastasiades & Partners LLC had filed 41 applications from May 2013 until August of this year.
This was out of a total of 2,390 applications filed.
Anastasiades maintains that since assuming office he has had nothing to do with the law firm and its business – although the main partners in the company are his daughters.
Foreign media outlets, including the Guardian, as well as certain quarters inside the EU have tried to put Cyprus’ feet to the fire over its investment scheme.
The matter also came up last week during a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
There, Victor Bostinaru, a Romanian politician and member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, harangued Anastasiades over Cyprus’ programme.
Addressing Anastasiades, Bostinaru said: “And I think that, looking at the composition of the ones benefiting from this programme, you should work on lowering down [sic] and stop it. And this is not to intervene in any way in your internal decisions.”
In his answer, Anastasiades stated: “There is an intense targeting of Cyprus from certain quarters. The total citizenships granted via the scheme from 2013 to August 2018 did not exceed 4,700. This represents just 0.3 per cent of the total citizenships granted by other EU member states.”
He added: “I hear some saying that you [Cyprus] are allowing some people to acquire Cypriot citizenship at the expense – supposedly – of the security of the EU. But in Cyprus there has never been any act of terrorism. It is not in my country that acts of terrorism occur.
“It is not in my country where most football clubs belong to oligarchs of other countries, non-EU countries. Or that landmarks and large buildings and real estate have come into the hands of either Russian oligarchs or Arab oligarchs or others. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
“But,” Anastasiades went on, “you cannot single out a small country for granting 0.3 per cent of total citizenships granted by all other EU countries. And I do not wish to reference how many tens of thousands of citizenships have been granted by various other countries. I will leave it at that.”