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Our View: Passport move nothing more than a gesture for home consumption

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar

The council of ministers decided on Monday to revoke or not renew 14 passports of the Republic held by Turkish Cypriot ‘officials’, 10 of whom are members of the pseudo-state’s ‘cabinet’ and four of whom are members of the committee for the opening of Varosha.

Announcing the decision, government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said these individuals, “with their deeds and actions undermine the sovereignty, the independence, the territorial integrity and the security of the Cyprus Republic, in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution.”

These were the same persons that, with the specific hostile actions towards the Cyprus Republic promote the implementation of Turkey’s plans to change the status of the fenced off area of Varosha, in contravention of the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations,” said Pelekanos after the meeting held at the presidential summer residence in Troodos.

The government started giving serious consideration to this idea last month, after Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar – a Republic passport holder himself – announced the opening of a small part of Varosha and invited Greek Cypriot property owners to submit applications if they wanted to return. It was a reprisal of sorts by the government eager to show that it was doing something about Turkey’s move on Varosha.

Three hardline, anti-settlement parties – Diko, Edek and Elam – applauded the government decision and claimed ownership of the idea. Edek and Diko said it had been asking for the implementation of the specific measure since 2017, whereas Elam claimed this was its position ever since its founding; it also wanted the closing of all the crossings. Edek restricted itself to saying more measures that “would incur a political and economic cost for the occupation regime” were necessary.

Do these parties seriously think that taking away the passports of 14 Turkish Cypriots would incur any kind of cost to the occupation regime? It will inconvenience the affected ‘officials’ when travelling abroad, but we are deluding ourselves in thinking that this measure incurs any kind of cost to the occupation regime. And we are doubly deluding ourselves if we believe this anodyne measure would stop Turkey pursuing its Varosha plans.

Monday’s decision was nothing more than a gesture aimed at addressing Greek Cypriot anger about Varosha, not all of which is directed at Turkey and Tatar. It is also directed at the Anastasiades government for allowing this situation to materialise. This section of the Greek Cypriots is unlikely to stop its attacks on President Anastasiades because the government plans to deprive Tatar and 13 other Turkish Cypriots of their Cyprus passports.

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