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13 July, 2024
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A legal dilemma impacts children of mixed marriages in Cyprus

Legal gaps leave thousands of children seeking Cypriot citizenship, causing concerns and challenges for families

Ioanna Kyriakou

A legal gray area exists for children of mixed marriages in Cyprus, particularly those involving a Greek Cypriot parent and a parent who arrived in Cyprus through migratory flows, categorized as irregular, or a Turkish Cypriot parent with a Turkish citizen (settler). Recent information obtained by K indicates that over 3,000 children from mixed marriages are currently seeking Cypriot citizenship, with 652 children meeting the criteria set by the Cabinet of Ministers to obtain citizenship.

The Issue

This issue has garnered renewed attention with the case of a Cypriot mother whose two-year-old daughter cannot obtain Cypriot citizenship despite being born and raised in Cyprus and having a Cypriot citizen mother. The child is considered stateless, which means she remains in this status until she turns 18. Notably, the father, who has a residence permit and contributes to social security and GESY, is not regarded as irregular. K brought this case to the Ministry of Interior, which is studying the matter. The problem has affected numerous families in Cyprus and has been reported on by the press on several occasions in the past.

Interior Ministry's Response

Upon contacting the Interior Ministry about the case, it was acknowledged that children born in Cyprus should be recognized as Cypriot citizens. Consequently, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou has instructed a meeting with the Civil Registry and Immigration Department to be held soon, aiming to propose solutions and explore ways to address the issue. The intent is to inform the Council of Ministers. Under current legislation, Cypriot citizenship is automatically granted if one parent is a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus, provided that the other parent has not entered the country illegally. However, exceptions can be made in certain cases through a proposal to the Council of Ministers.

Criteria for Naturalizations

Since 2007, the Council of Ministers has established a set of criteria for naturalizations in mixed marriage cases. Currently, 652 children meet these criteria, while 2,899 do not. Citizenship is granted to children of mixed marriages between Turkish Cypriots and Turkish citizens (settlers) born before or on July 20, 1974, among other specific conditions.

Challenges Faced

Children of mixed marriages, especially those involving Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers, encounter numerous challenges. Granting children citizenship often results in the recognition of the Turkish settler as a Cypriot citizen as well, a sticking point that hampers the process. The upcoming meeting is expected to explore solutions that provide documentation and state belonging for these children while avoiding recognition of Turkish settlers as Cypriot citizens.

These children face severe limitations in various aspects of life, including travel restrictions unless a serious medical reason necessitates a permit. They also cannot be registered in the GESY healthcare system. Once these children reach the age of 18, they can apply for naturalization, with most cases approved if one parent is a Greek Cypriot.

Cyprus  |  society  |  adoption

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