Today is Friday, October 23rd, so we continue to share with you the most recent and interesting events that are taking place in Cyprus and beyond the island, which are a result of the scandalous exposure of the Golden passports investment program.
Low rejection rate for the Cyprus investment program.
The European Commission said that the number of people who received Cypriot citizenship through the famous investment program is more than a third of the total number of passports issued by the state.
In the course of its investigation, launched on 20 October, the Commission found out that 3,616 applications were submitted to participate in the Citizenship by Investment Program in Cyprus between 2014 and 2019. The local government approved 2,612 applications and only 69 were refused. At the same time, the number of naturalized foreign investors, excluding their family members, who were also granted citizenship, amounted to about 15 percent of the annual number of naturalizations.
According to the Commission, the low number of rejected applications indicates the systematic issuance of passports to foreign citizens. In light of these events, Brussels called on Cyprus to provide them with a list with the names of all foreigners, as well as their family members, who obtained European passports since 2013.
European politicians stressed that the granting of Cyprus citizenship by investment violated the principle of “loyal cooperation” and the principle of the integrity of the institution of EU citizenship. Due to the fact that a member state of the European Union issued their passports to investors, they automatically became EU citizens, receiving all the rights corresponding to this status: free movement, residence and work in the EU, the right to vote in elections.
Based on its findings, the Commission noted that the Cyprus investment program, for the sake of financial gain, is capable of undermining mutual trust between the EU member states regarding the procedures for granting citizenship, which is unacceptable.
No new citizenship scheme for Cyprus
On Thursday, October 22, a regular meeting of the European Parliament took place in Brussels.
The topic of the meeting was “Serious security threats due to the sale of EU passports and visas to criminals”. It is worth noting that the European Commission (EC) received full support from the European Parliament for its decision to start the sanctions procedure against Cyprus. In the discussion, MEPs noted that the government of the country is interested in the multi-billion dollar investments received from the Gold passports sales, but European values are more expensive.
In particular, Commissioner Didier Reynders spoke out about the Cyprus investment scheme and the damage it could cause to other EU member states.
"EU citizenship cannot be traded as a commodity. This violates European principles and values. No sooner had the government of Cyprus announced the cancellation of the current citizenship program, as they are already discussing the conditions for opening a new scheme. We are determined to ensure that this does not happen. European values and principles are undermined when citizenship becomes part of a simple transaction. EU passports are part of the solidarity of all European member states, each of which must unconditionally recognize the citizenship of other states in that union. We will no longer allow EU citizenship to be sold like a commodity! ” Reynders said.
He also noted that Brussels' concerns are not limited to Cyprus and Malta, but also to Bulgaria, which is also proposing a citizenship by investment scheme. He said that the EC sent a letter to the Bulgarian authorities this week with a "strong recommendation" to abandon the practice and warned that Bulgaria risks incurring the same legal liability as Cyprus and Malta.
At the same time, many speakers at the meeting demanded a special legislative ban on Golden passports.
Nation states do not have the right to sell what does not belong to them - EU citizenship, - said a spokeswoman for the liberals.
The MPs stressed that Golden passports are the gateway to the EU for criminals, corrupt officials, family members of dictators, and even support for Islamist terrorism. A representative from Cyprus testified that trade in citizenship increases injustice and inequality in countries that trade in citizenship.
The President of Cyprus and his government must resign
Due to the scandal with the Qatari edition, the DIKO and AKEL parties demanded a special legislative ban on the issuance of Golden passports, refusal to accept new applications, consideration of unfinished applications by an independent body, as well as the resignation of the President of Cyprus and politicians directly or indirectly involved in issuing Cypriot passports through the Cyprus Investment Program, including Interior Minister Nicos Nouris.
In their opinion, it is the president and the current government that are guilty of the Golden passports scandal in Cyprus, they have compromised themselves and defamed the country's reputation. Anastasiades has lost the confidence of the people, so he must immediately fulfill his duties and resign.
In addition, the opposition parties requested that the Cyprus Auditor General be granted access to all passport files issued through the Citizenship by Investment program and calmly check whether the law has been violated and whether other politically exposed persons have been involved.
Anastasiades is not going to leave the post
Despite the indignation of DIKO and AKEL, Nicos Anastasiades said that he would not betray the will of the overwhelming majority of the country's citizens and would complete his term, as required by the Constitution and the civil mandate.
'The attacks from the opposition parties coincide in time with critical events in the Cyprus problem, extreme Turkish provocations that require the greatest possible unity between the people and the political leadership, against the backdrop of the ongoing health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which threatens the country with economic difficulties,' the President of Cyprus said.
At the same time, Anastasiades stressed that now is not the time to lobby for party interests and pre-election tricks. And people who understand the importance of the moment will judge and condemn such behavior.
In turn, government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios hinted that by attacking the president in this way, some MPs want to hide their involvement in the Golden passport scandal. In particular, AKEL is trying to disorient public opinion in order to divert attention from the fact that one of the MPs of their party was involved in the video of Al Jazeera.
As you may know Cyprus will cancel the citizenship by investment program from November 1. The decision to close the investment scheme was made the day after the broadcast of the investigation film by the Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera about the involvement of officials, including politicians, in violations in the granting of citizenship.
There are many open questions in the current situation. It is not yet clear what the Cypriot government will take in relation to investors who paid for participation, but did not have time to submit an application. It is also not known what will be done with applications that will be pending after November 1.
Chronicles of the Cyprus Passport Saga:
- Part 1 (link)
- Part 2 (link)
- Part 3 (link)
- Part 4 (link)
- Part 5 (link)
- Part 6 (link)
- Part 7 (link)
- Part 8 (link)
- Part 9 (link)
- Part 10 (link)
- Part 11 (link)
- Part 12 (link)
- Part 13 (link)
- Part 14 (link)
- Part 15 (link)
- Part 16 (link)
- Part 17 (link)
- Part 18 (link)