Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Aug. 25 hit back at Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar, who had slammed the Greek administration for revoking Turkish officials' passports.
Anastasiades said that Tatar was contradicting himself in his criticism of a decision to revoke the passports of 14 Turkish Cypriots.
Greek Cyprus said on Aug. 23 it would revoke, fail to renew or refuse to issue passports to individuals who participated in the "pseudo state's cabinet," or were involved in attempts to reopen Varosha,
"With their acts and deeds they undermine the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus, in violation of the Constitution," government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said.
Tatar slammed the decision and said that the move was racist, anachronistic and in violation of the rights of Turkish Cypriots arising from the fact that the Republic of Cyprus is a common republic of “two peoples."
In response, Anastasiades rejected the accusation it was a racist decision, reminding Tatar that it was him who told the Financial Times “We are a different race. We speak Turkish, our religion is Islam, our motherland in Turkey," Cyprus Mail reported.
The president also dismissed suggestions of discrimination, pointing out that the Greek Cyprus had issued 97,000 passports and over 110,000 ID cards to Turkish Cypriots, confirming their Cypriot citizenship.
“The revocation of passports strictly concerns a limited number of individuals who undermine the independence, sovereignty, and status of the Republic of Cyprus with their actions and certainly not all our Turkish Cypriot compatriots,” he said.
Tatar’s position that the Turkish Cypriot rights stem from the treaties of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus is also inconsistent with his rhetoric, Anastasiades said.
Despite it being correct, it contradicts “Mr. Tatar’s positions of separating Cypriot citizens in two peoples and of a two-state solution, which blatantly violates the agreements he cites,” Anastasiades said.
If Tatar means what he claims, the Greek Cypriot community is “fully prepared to accept the restoration of constitutional order with the return of the Turkish Cypriots to the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, and the rest of the services, based on the provisions of the 1960 constitution, with the simultaneous start of talks to define the areas which each community will be responsible to administer based on UN resolutions.”
The east Mediterranean island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. Turkish Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey, while Greek Cyprus is internationally recognized.
The present Greek Cypriot administration made billions selling passports to thousands ranging from Russian oligarchs and a Malaysian fugitive to well-connected Cambodians.
Reunification attempts have repeatedly failed, and relations are at a new low in a dispute over offshore energy reserves, a Turkish Cypriot demand that peace talks be placed on a new footing, and Turkish moves to open part of a fenced-in city abandoned by its residents in the 1974 war.