On Monday, Cyprus announced it would void all passports from officials leading the adjacent Turkish Cypriot state. The act would effectively target 14 officials, including incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, in an effort to condemn the leadership of the decades-long takeover that ultimately split the island.
Referring to Cyprus’ motives in targeting these individuals, government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos said “they undermine” the republic’s “sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security.” They also violated the constitution. However, diplomat and former Cypriot foreign minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis said on twitter that the policy removes “the only element of proof” that Turkish officials “recognize the Republic of Cyprus.”
While Cyprus’ effort is a nonviolent approach to conflict resolution, it will likely not be a highly effective one. Instead of attempting to resolve tensions between the regions, it will most likely only alienate them further and make peace processes increasingly difficult. Moreover, it would be more productive for the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots to convene to discuss a way to coexist and govern peacefully. Or, they should find an approach that would set clearer boundaries and guidelines—whether that means reunification or hard separation.
The original conflict dates back to 1974, when a Greek military coup led to a Turkish invasion of the island. While the coup was motivated by an attempt to reunify the island with mainland Greece, it ultimately split Cyprus into the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Northern Cyprus. The latter is not recognized internationally. In the decades since, relations have remained tense and unyielding, with both sides yet to agree on how to govern the territories.
In recent months, Turkish Cypriots also attempted to reopen the suburb Varosha to be resettled. The territory was previously home to Greek residents who were forced to flee during the invasion. For the past several decades, it has been a deserted military zone, according to Reuters. Currently, the area has been used for day visits, but the new plan has created a stipulation for civilian use in the near future. Such a move has only exacerbated the strain with the Republic of Cyprus, who has deplored the act as unjust, since it limits displaced citizens from reclaiming their seized property. Many other international powers such as the United Kingdom, United Nations, and United States have also criticized the announcement.
Pelekanos warned of revocations, failure to renew, and refusal to issue passports to people who were involved in the “pseudo state’s cabinet,” or “attempts to reopen Varosha.” A date for the passport revocation has not yet been confirmed, nor have further details been released. However, once officially enacted, it is inevitable that it will vastly alter the international relations between the regions. In the future, the dispute will likely need to be properly addressed with a more stable and developed plan in order to bring the island long-lasting peace.
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