NICOSIA -- Nine leaders of the Turkish-Cypriot occupied side of Cyprus who don't recognize the legitimate Greek-Cypriot government that's a member of the European Union hold its passports, including leader Ersin Tatar.
That created a brouhaha days after he took part in United Nations brokered talks in Geneva aimed at reunifying the island split after Turkey unlawfully seized the northern third in two 1974 invasions.
Tatar, a hardline nationalist who said he would do whatever Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants, demanded recognition for the occupied side in what he said was a two-state solution to accept his government.
Only Turkey in the world recognizes the self-declared republic in the occupied territory and doesn't recognize the legitimate government and bars its ships and planes and said it would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army there.
Only two of the 11 self-declared ministers on the Turkish-Cypriot side don't have Cypriot passports, said the Emirates-funded news site Ahval that reports on Turkish affairs.
The revelations were made by Cypriot media and Tatar, said Ahval, confirmed the reports and “If there is a way to return it, I will,” adding he had never used it although it allows travel within the EU.
People accepted to have Cypriot origins and born on the island before the 1974 invasion are eligible to receive a Republic of Cyprus ID and passport based on a foundation agreement for the establishment of the Republic in 1960. Their children have the same rights.
Another ultra-nationalist and the self-declared foreign chief for the Turkish-Cypriot side, Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, also has a Cypriot passport, the Bugün Kıbrıs news website reported, publishing part of his registration number.
“The issue has been distorted,” Ertuğruloğlu said, according to Kıbrıs Postası and said he was the victim of a smear campaign by the Greek-Cypriot government whose passport he holds while refusing to recognize the administration.
“Greek-Cypriots and the international community must accept the undeniable reality of two separate national entities, two separate states, two separate democracies, two separate peoples,” Ertuğruloğlu told the Financial Times in late March. He described Turkey as the Motherland for the occupied side.
“When I was born in 1953, Cyprus was a British colony. After the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, the Republic’s identity cards were issued for all Turkish Cypriot citizens,” Ertuğruloğlu said.
“But I did not go to the southern side of the island since the partition in 1974 and did not apply to get an ID or a passport,” he said in his defense without saying if he would return it or had ever used it.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades referred to Turkish Cypriots as citizens in a televised Easter message and reports said that more more 160,000 Turkish-Cypriots hold either a Republic of Cyprus ID or passport, Yenidüzen newspaper said as the flap intensified.