'South hands out golden passport while TCs are denied'
By OZAN MOROĞLU
AROUND 30,000 Turkish Cypriots are being denied the right to obtain a “Republic of Cyprus” passport, it has been claimed, while wealthy foreign investors – alleged criminals among them – have been given the sought-after travel documents.
The fresh claims were made this week by trade unionist Şener Elcil, whose Cyprus Turkish Teachers’ Union (Ktös) has taken on the cause of Turkish Cypriots who have faced difficulties obtaining the “golden passports”, which give the bearer the right to live and work anywhere in the European Union.
Speaking to Cyprus Today in the wake of a bombshell investigation by Al-Jazeera into the “passports for cash” scheme that has rocked South Cyprus in recent days, Mr Elcil said:
“We’ve been working for the Turkish Cypriot victims who legally have the right to have the passport, but are prevented by the South Cyprus administration due to political reasons.
“We, as a union, started our studies on the issue two years ago in order to solve the problems that Turkish Cypriots experience. There are around 30,000 victims in North Cyprus who have been prevented from getting a South Cyprus passport.
“We held a [seminar] in February 2018 and more than 1,000 people attended. Then we established an office to work on the problems that Turkish Cypriots experience – around 6,300 victims made an application [for help with their passport applications].”
Mr Elcil stated that the majority of the “victims” have a non-Cypriot mother or father, although this not is “legally not an obstacle” to gain citizenship from South Cyprus.
“Some of these people have lived in Cyprus for more than 50 years,” he continued. “Some of these Turkish Cypriots are married to Turkish, Romanian, Russian and Bulgarian spouses, and their children legally have the right to have a South Cyprus passport.
“As a result of our attempts, we established an office on the Greek Cypriot side [of Cyprus] and carried out joint studies on this issue. These works continued for a while [but were] then prevented again by the Greek Cypriot administration. It is purely for political reasons.
“Thus, the Greek Cypriot side left us with no other option than to seek our rights in the field of international law. Some cases have ended negatively in the South, but we will take these studies to the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR].
“There is an ongoing case in the South, which will probably result [in a judgment] against us, but we definitely will carry the result to European Court of Human Rights.”
Commenting on the recent scandal that alleged convicted criminals have been among those able to obtain passports from the Greek Cypriot authorities in return for huge investments, Mr Elcil added:
“People can buy citizenship for 2.5million euros in the South, they are considering this as economic income.
“But our people cannot have the passport. The political reasons in the island are not the victims’ fault. People should [be given] their legal rights.
“We . . .will continue our work resolutely, even if we do not get any support from any political parties”
Around 80,000 Turkish Cypriots are believed to have obtained Republic of Cyprus passports, which since 2004 have given them access to the EU.
According to media reports, laws state that a child with at least one parent who has Republic of Cyprus nationality should also be granted citizenship.
However the Greek Cypriot authorities later added an exception to the rule in instances where any one of the parents entered Cyprus from Turkey.
Those who have applied for a passport but not yet received one are not given reference numbers for their applications, it has been reported, while it’s claimed that others seeking recourse through the Greek Cypriot courts have seen their cases drag on for years.