We recognize the Republic of Cyprus – Interview with “P” by Sude Dogan, president of the Movement for Resolution Mixed Marriage Problem – Politis (EN)

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We recognize the Republic of Cyprus – Interview with “P” by Sude Dogan, president of the Movement for Resolution Mixed Marriage Problem

Sude Dogan is the granddaughter of a grandmother who came to Cyprus as a settler from Turkey in 1975, married a Turkish Cypriot, and her father was born in occupied Famagusta. Her mother’s parents are Turkish Cypriots.

*”One of our parents may have come to the island “illegally”, due to the “settler policy” [..] however, we are children who were born and raised on this island and adopted this island as our homeland”

*”It is important to know and recognize the Republic of Cyprus and its laws, because this citizenship is a right given to us according to the laws of the Republic of Cyprus”

*”Citizenship depends on the sovereignty of each state. The problem of mixed marriages can be solved by the initiative of the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus”

*”There is no “violation of human rights” regarding the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. There is a “humanitarian” problem in relation to this issue”

“I am Sude Dogan, founder and president of the NGO “Movement for Resolution of Mixed Marriage Problem” (Karma Evlilik Sorunu Çözüm Hareketi) founded in April 2022. I am 23 years old, a Turkish-speaking Cypriot and I also have the problem of mixed marriage.” This is how Sude Dogan, a Turkish Cypriot child with mixed marriage problem, introduced herself to “P”, asking to state the position of her Association, which, as she reports, lists approximately 2000 supporters of the request for Republic of Cyprus citizenship. In fact, Sude Dogan is the granddaughter of a mixed marriage – her grandmother came to the island as a settler from Turkey in 1975, married a Turkish Cypriot and her father was born in occupied Famagusta. All the rest of her family is Turkish Cypriot – her mother’s family is from Paphos and was forced to move to occupied Morphou after the Turkish invasion. According to Sude Dogan, although there are no official numbers in the occupied territories, it is estimated that there are approximately 15,000-20,000 children (now there are also the second and third generations, i.e. the grandchildren and great-grandchildren) of mixed marriages (Turkish Cypriots married with foreigners). It is noted that in the following interview, Sude Dogan’s phraseology was maintained – phrases such as “Turkish-speaking Cypriot”, “so-called trnc”, “occupied side” etc., were used by her.

What exactly is the “mixed marriage problem”?

It concerns children born on the northern side of the island, from marriages between Turkish-speaking Cypriots who have the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus and a foreign population who entered Cyprus “illegally” (from the ports on the occupied side of Cyprus), after but also in relation to the events of 1974, and cannot acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. Our mission is to gather under one roof, people with the problem of mixed marriages, and acting in accordance with international law with a collective conscience, to solve this problem by creating a climate of reconciliation with the Republic of Cyprus and its officials. In order to achieve our goal, we aspire to be the movement that will coordinate the developments that will lead to the solution of this humanitarian problem, with mutual assistance with various agencies and civil society throughout Cyprus. We aim to build domestic and international relations, to keep the problem on the social agenda and to develop social awareness of the problem and its solution.

And how do you plan to solve this problem?

There are facts that we must accept, like all Cypriots, especially those affected by this problem:

(a) It is important to know and recognize the Republic of Cyprus and its laws, because this citizenship is a right given to us according to the laws of the Republic of Cyprus.

(b) Citizenship depends on the sovereignty of each state. The problem of mixed marriages can be resolved at the initiative of the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus.

(c) Again, since citizenship depends on the sovereignty of each state, we must look for the solution to the problem of mixed marriages first within Cyprus, in the two Cypriot communities, and not within the European Union, the European Commission or the United Nations. Because these institutions cannot force anyone to solve the problem in question, other than by applying pressure.

(d) There is no “violation of human rights” regarding the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. There is a “humanitarian” problem with this issue.

(e) Rights offered by the European Union should be differentiated from local citizenship. Rights such as education and free movement are additional rights offered to EU member states. In addition, every person who is a citizen of the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – with certain exceptions – has the right to access a recognized citizenship. In other words, he can benefit from the rights of education and free movement, albeit in a more compelling way. Local citizenship should be requested by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, in order for children of mixed marriages to “benefit more by belonging to this island”.

We have a right

Yes, but can one parent be a settler?

One of our parents may have come to the island “illegally”, due to “settler policy” as understood in international law. However, we are children who were born and raised on this island and have adopted this island as our home – and one of our parents is Cypriot and holds citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. And according to the law of the Civil Registrity Law of the Republic of Cyprus, we, the children of mixed marriages have the right to acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. Children of mixed marriages born abroad to a couple where one is Cypriot and the other foreign, still receive Cypriot citizenship. Because we were born into a pseudostate, are we different from the rest of the children of mixed marriages? Political issues must not overshadow these children’s rights to citizenship on their island. We, the children, have nothing to do with “occupation” or “illegal settler politics”. We believe that this problem needs to be resolved in order to further strengthen our sense of belonging on this island. Giving us the right to citizenship means that it will bring us closer to the society, the country and the island where we truly belong.

How many children are affected by the problem of intermarriage?

After 2011, there was no census of the population in the so-called trnc, so we don’t know the real numbers. It is estimated that we are about 15,000-20,000 children who have this problem and we will try to find the real numbers so that we can solve our issue.

President Christodoulidis backs down

Despite the various statements made by the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulidis, regarding confidence building measures (CBM) for the Turkis Cypriots, which he would announce unilaterally (because the Turkish Cypriot leader does not cooperate for a joint decision), such no move has been made yet, even though it was announced the meeting of the President of the Republic with the Secretary General of the United Nations, next Friday, September 22, 2023, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The philosophy behind this initiative was that it would help the I/C side’s position in relation to efforts to convince the international community and the United Nations of the I/C’s sincere intentions regarding the resumption of negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus. Whatever the case, the information from the presidential office is that sooner or later, measures will be announced – MOU between the two communities of Cyprus has also been clearly requested by the European Commission. It is recalled that the issue was raised by the General Director of Structural Reforms of the European Commission, Mario Nava, who was in Cyprus at the beginning of last March, as soon as the new government took over.

Looking for formula

Among the measures that the presidential office is working on, there is one that concerns the granting of citizenship to persons whose one parent is Turkish and the other a foreigner (mixed marriages), with procedures that do not legalize Turkish settlers who are illegally in the occupied territories. Various scenarios are on the table, such as that in the first stage citizenship could be given to Turkish children, whose Turkish parent is married to a Turkish citizen and for example they have celebrated their wedding abroad, or they met during their studies, etc. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, approximately 3530 such applications are pending.

He won’t dare

However, according to a source from the presidential office, this measure does not seem to be moving forward, for reasons that have to do with the balance within the government. This measure is considered bold and quite advanced politically, and the President of the Republic believes that it would be very well received abroad and would help the EU side in its efforts to restart talks. The parties that support President Christodoulidis – DIKO, DIPA, EDEK – have informed the presidential office that they cannot support such a decision and, in fact, officials of these parties are sure to react strongly. After what happened in relation to the pogroms against immigrants in Chloraka and Molo Limassol, the President of the Republic seems to back off and leave the matter in question for later.

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