Cyprus announced on Monday its intention to revoke passports issued to Turkish-Cypriot officials in the north of the divided island because of their “hostile” actions.
Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos did not specify the identity of the targeted officials but said the decision was linked to Turkey”s and the Turkish-Cypriot authorities’ plan to reopen the eastern ghost town of Varosha in defiance of UN resolutions.
Since the invasion of the north of the island by the Turkish army in 1974 in reaction to a coup d’état by Greek-Cypriot nationalists who wanted to attach it to Greece, the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, has been divided into two parts.
The southern part of the Mediterranean island, inhabited mostly by Greek Cypriots, is ruled by a UN-recognised government, while the northern part, self-proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is ruled solely by Ankara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and TRNC leader Ersin Tatar announced last month the reopening of part of the former seaside resort of Varosha, fled by its inhabitants in 1974 and sealed off by the Turkish army.
“The cabinet has decided to revoke, not renew or issue Republic of Cyprus passports to a number of people who participate in the pseudo-state cabinet or are members of the Varosha opening committee,” Pelekanos said.
The actions of these officials “undermine the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.
“Their hostile actions against the Republic of Cyprus promote the implementation of Turkey’s plans to change the status of Varosha, contrary to UN resolutions,” he added.
The official Cypriot news agency said 14 passports would be revoked, including ten belonging to members of the TRNC “government”.
Turkish Cypriots are entitled to a Republic of Cyprus identity card and passport, which allows them to enter the EU freely.
Local media reported that Tatar had obtained a passport in 2000, but he said he had never used it and would gladly return it.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 Turkish Cypriots hold Republic of Cyprus identity cards or passports.