Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Tuesday that the Turkish Cypriot ‘officials’ who have had their passports rescinded can seek recourse in the courts of the Republic if they so choose.
The cabinet on Monday decided to rescind the passports of 14 Turkish Cypriots, including leader Ersin Tatar, seen as undermining the Republic of Cyprus.
The 14 Turkish Cypriots will be informed in writing of the cabinet’s decision to rescind their passports, the interior minister said, adding that they can seek justice through the legal system – as is their right afforded to them under the constitution.
Tatar on Tuesday condemned the decision to rescind the passports, including his own, saying it was anachronistic and racist.
In a written statement, Tatar said Monday’s decision by the Anastasiades cabinet has no legal basis and goes against human rights.
Making such a distinction between people cannot be accepted, he added.
A second statement by the Turkish Cypriot ‘presidency’ later on in the day said that the mentality behind the government’s move is at the root of the Cyprus problem, and the reason why a federal partnership based on equality is neither possible nor sustainable.
It also called the decision “another threat against the rights and liberties of Turkish Cypriots”.
Government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos, speaking to CyBC on Tuesday, said that the decision was targeted at specific individuals for specific reasons and in no way impacted the wider Turkish Cypriot community, of which 97,000 are document holders of the Republic.
It should be noted that while the passports of those in question have been rescinded, their ID cards have not.
“Passports are travel documents which have a very specific use… this is not about citizenship,” Nouris said on Tuesday.
Pelekanos also added that this was a move targeted against individuals who are battling the Republic and with their actions are closing the road towards a solution.
The decision affects 14 Turkish Cypriot officials, 10 ‘ministers’ and four involved in a committee on Varosha.
Tatar added that he is not particularly affected by the decision as he has not used his Cypriot passport for years. “Nevertheless, this is an issue that concerns our people and our community,” who face various injustices when it comes to travel.
The passport is a right arising from the fact that the Republic of Cyprus is a common democracy of “two peoples,” he said, asking the government to “respect this right”.
The decision also drew reaction from a number of Turkish Cypriot officials.
Speaking after a ‘cabinet’ session on Monday, ‘prime minister’ Ersan Saner said that the move reflects a hostile attitude and should be reconsidered.
In a tweet, former ‘prime minister’ Tufan Erhurman said that the decision is “legal nonsense,” and that the Cypriot government keeps dealing with politically useless issues.
The Greek Cypriot government is showing its weakness with this decision, which bears no weight, said former ‘foreign minister’ in the north and chairman of the People’s Party Kudret Ozersay.
Because they could not prevent the steps made in Varosha, and amid criticism from opposition parties, they did this just to say “We did something, we didn’t stay quiet”.
Continuing on social media, Ozersay said that the decision does not take us forward but backwards in political, legal and communal aspects, and that the Greek Cypriot leadership cannot find justice through “petty politics”.
Former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who had pushed for reunification during his term, including showing support for the Annan Plan, was critical of these reactions.
“You brag about wanting a separate state, but have been using a Cypriot passport,” he said, according to PIO.
“Once they take it out of your hands you start calling them racist, their behaviour contrary to human rights, and are unable to accept the consequences of pushing for secession. Shame!”
The cabinet also decided to seek recourse at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Turkey in connection with its decision to open Varosha.
This would be the fifth application filed by Cyprus against Turkey.
Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said the cabinet will ask the attorney-general to submit an appeal relating to Turkey’s and the breakaway state’s actions in the closed-off area of Varosha in “line with the recommendations of legal consultants of high standing.”
The government’s move was in response to the Turkish side’s decision to open an area of Varosha for resettlement, in violation of UN resolutions.