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Cyprus

Block on Turkish Cypriot mixed marriages for citizenship lifted (Updated)

file photo: photo illustration of a cypriot passport

The block on Turkish Cypriots of mixed marriages, wherein one of their parents is a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, will now have their applications for Republic of Cyprus citizenships processed.

Previously, Turkish Cypriots who had one parent who was from Turkey had seen their citizenship applications blocked if their parents were married in the north after July 20, 1974, following guidelines issued by a cabinet decision in 1974.

Now, however, the government has said they will begin examining pending applications for citizenship which had previously been blocked.

Additionally, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that Turkish Cypriots of mixed marriages who apply in the future will have their applications processed.

The other measures include an expansion to the list of goods allowed to cross between Cyprus’ two sides under the Green Line Regulation, as well as the bolstering of staffing levels at the crossing points and the widening of the Ayios Dhometios crossing point in Nicosia.

In the field of healthcare, Turkish Cypriots will now have access to the Institute of Neurology and Genetics and will have their “extraordinary and urgent pharmaceutical needs” covered by the government.

The government will also pay widows’ pensions to Turkish Cypriots who have the right to one and allow Turkish Cypriots the right to participate in human resources programmes, within the framework of the government’s action plan for the European Year of skills.

Turkish Cypriots who turn 18 will have the right to obtain a Youth Culture Card, loaded with €220 they can spend on attending cultural events, while the government also promised to implement “rapid transport measures” for Turkish Cypriot children who cross the Ledra Palace crossing point to go to school every day.

Turkish-speaking workers will also be recruited to work at the Citizens’ Service Centre in Nicosia, while the government also pledged to “ensure the continued smooth operation” of the capital’s sewage treatment plant in Mia Milia, and “further facilitate” access to Muslim sites in the Republic.

They said the measures concern “a wide range of activities which affect the daily lives of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots.”

The measures “have been formed unilaterally following an assessment of all the relevant data and will be implemented within the framework of domestic law, international law, and the acquis communautaire [to the European Union],” they said.’

Speaking to journalists on Friday evening following the measures’ announcement, President Nikos Christodoulides said Turkish Cypriots “are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, a European Union member state which is internationally recognised.”

He added, “the government is showing in practice that the Republic of Cyprus is an internationally recognised EU member state, and not a pseudo state.”

Clarifying the measure to allow Turkish Cypriots with one parent who is a national of the Republic of Turkey to apply to become citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, he said “in 2007, during the Tasos Papadopoulos administration, cabinet set five criteria for examining applications and stopped examining [those which did not meet the criteria].”

“As part of the package of measures announced today, applications [which do not meet the criteria] will begin to be examined,” he said, adding “we will examine the applications made and decisions will be made on the basis of the laws and regulations of the Republic of Cyprus and the European acquis.”

One journalist asked whether Greek Cypriot businesses had reacted negatively to the expansion of the number products transferrable between Cyprus’ two sides under the Green Line Regulation, but Christodoulides said “there has been no reaction.”

“They knew before the announcement, I spoke with them and what was announced was decided in consultation with them,” he said.

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