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    Here’s what I think: Anastasiades’ Passport Threats

    If we were to sum up Nicos Anastasiades’ presidency in one word, that word would probably be “passports”. His eight years have been full of various scandals and failures, but the standout one was blown up by an Al Jazeera documentary – the sale of European Union passports to millionaire criminals, and the personal profits made by Anastasiades off the scheme. As the old adage goes, however, Nicos Anastasiades giveth passports, and he taketh away.

    Here's what I think: Anastasiades' Passport Threats 1
    Tom Cleaver

    With increasing fervour in recent weeks, Nicos Anastasiades has been threatening to revoke the citizenship of Turkish Cypriots who “do not recognise the Republic of Cyprus”. This would of course be completely immoral, and set some very dangerous precedents.

    First of all, the Republic of Cyprus is supposed to claim and encompass the entire territory of the island of Cyprus, and even under its current sole representation by the Greek Cypriot community continues to make that claim. If those in government truly believe that claim to be true, then surely every single person born on the island of Cyprus should be automatically a citizen of the Republic.

    As we all know, this is currently not the case – children born in northern Cyprus to non-Cypriot parents are currently denied that right and viewed as “illegal immigrants” by the administration. Stripping Turkish Cypriots of that right would be a decisive statement by the Greek Cypriot administration, however – reinforcing what seems to be a concrete preference to have complete control over half the island, rather than share control of all of it. It would be a statement of intent to further squeeze the Turkish Cypriots out of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Furthermore, it’s inches away from being a human rights violation. Northern Cyprus is almost completely internationally unrecognised, and therefore revoking the Republic of Cyprus citizenship of Turkish Cypriots would leave a good number of people effectively stateless. The precedent set by the case of Shamima Begum, a teenage ISIS bride made stateless by the United Kingdom but technically eligible for citizenship of Bangladesh, suggests that such a move would not be illegal as such, but at the very least morally questionable, and as far as I’m concerned violates the human rights of the Turkish Cypriots.

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    The precedent that would be set by Anastasiades’ potential revocations would have the potential to be very dangerous. The UK revoking Shamima Begum’s citizenship was one thing – she was of course a member of an undoubtedly evil terrorist organisation. Revoking the citizenship of Turkish Cypriots for having an easily defensible opinion on the politics and history of Cyprus would be quite another. It would effectively set a precedent not only in Cyprus but potentially in the European Union as a whole that disagreeing politically with the government of the day is grounds for having one’s citizenship revoked, and I would rather not find out the extent to which that precedent could be extrapolated. It could propose a very real threat to freedom of speech.

    For my final point, I’d like to point something out to the small number of Turkish Cypriots I’ve seen supporting this proposal. A law such as this may seem funny at the outset, and a good ploy to give the likes of Ersin Tatar a bloody nose politically. However, it must be noted that this sort of law would not stop at the likes of Tatar.

    The types of Greek Cypriot politician that make this sort of laws do not care much for the differences between different Turkish Cypriot political outlooks, and therefore this law would doubtless be used to the fullest possible extent. Even if you supported Mustafa Akıncı last October, they could still take the view that you “took part in an illegal election” and revoke your citizenship, too. In supporting this law, you would be in the clearest possible way a turkey voting for Christmas.

    In short, it seems that Nicos Anastasiades is on the brink of taking some dangerous steps towards severely diminishing the rights and freedoms of the Turkish Cypriots. If he carries out this threat, human rights in Cyprus could be on some very rocky ground indeed.

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