Cyprus Mail

Akel slams government over passport scheme

Stefanos Stefanou

Opposition Akel spokesman and MP Stefanos Stefanou on Friday harshly criticised the government for “hiding instead of answering legitimate questions” on the citizenship scheme as it involved a number of Cambodians with family links to the country’s authoritarian regime.

Stefanou referred to the article that news agency Reuters published on Thursday, stating that eight family members or allies of the Cambodian leader, including the country’s police chief who has been instrumental in clamping down on dissent in Cambodia, and its finance minister, received Cypriot citizenship in 2016 and 2017.

“It’s not the first time that the government acts in such way,” Stefanou added.

“We all know what happened with the ‘Troika Laundromat’ case. President Anastasiades continues to ignore the consequences of his actions but citizens deserve full transparency and accountability from their government.”

On Friday, the ministry of interior issued a statement explaining in detail how the scheme works.

According to the statement, the Cyprus Investment Programme involves supervision control, in order to avoid abuse, and is continuously evaluated and reinforced, “so that the whole programme becomes more trustworthy and transparent”.

It also said that the programme, which was launched in 2013, requires that applicants must have a clean criminal record issued by their country of origin and country of residence if this is different.

It also stipulates that applicants should not be included on the list of persons whose property is frozen within the boundaries of the European Union.

Finally, it added that the last revision of the programme introduced last February, saw additional safeguards.

Applicants must now hold a valid Schengen visa, while persons who applied for citizenship in any other EU member state and were turned down are not entitled to obtain Cypriot citizenship as part of the scheme.

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