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Cyprus to revoke passports of Turkish Cypriot officials

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Cyprus said on Monday it would revoke 14 passports issued to Turkish Cypriot officials in the breakaway north of the island over their “hostile” actions, Agence France-Presse reported.

Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos did not specify which officials were being targeted, but said the decision was linked to Turkish and Turkish Cypriot plans to open up the ghost town of Varosha.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said last month they would reopen part of the former resort, abandoned since Ankara’s 1974 invasion of the island.

“The cabinet decided to revoke, not renew or issue Republic of Cyprus passports to a number of persons who either participate in the pseudo-state’s 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.

The official Cyprus News Agency said 14 passports would be revoked — 10 held by cabinet members and four by members of the Varosha committee.

“Their specific hostile actions against the Republic of Cyprus promote the implementation of Turkey’s plans to change the status of Varosha, contrary to United Nations resolutions,” Pelekanos added.

Turkish troops seized the northern third of Cyprus in 1974 in response to an aborted coup in Nicosia aiming at uniting the island with Greece.

The Republic of Cyprus, whose overwhelming majority is Greek Cypriot and which has been a European Union member since 2004, has effective control over the southern two-thirds of the island.

Only Ankara recognizes the breakaway self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Turkish Cypriots are eligible for a Republic of Cyprus identity card and passport, which allows them free access to the EU.

Media reports said that Tatar obtained a passport in 2000 but that he never used it and would happily return it.

The EU has told Turkey to reverse plans to open up Varosha. In July, the 27-nation bloc which includes the Republic of Cyprus, condemned “Turkey’s unilateral steps and the unacceptable announcements”.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 Turkish Cypriots hold either a Republic of Cyprus ID card or passport.

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