The European Commission has sent the message that Cyprus should promptly revoke passports granted through its citizenship programme wherever a violation of regulations is detected.
This is what Philenews reported on Thursday, adding that the stern warning was sent at the same time as when Interior Minister Nicos Nouris was giving a press conference to respond to damning revelations by Al Jazeera.
The network had disclosed that among those who obtained Cypriot citizenship are convicted criminals, fugitives from the law and those considered to be at high risk of corruption.
“These programmes have an impact on the European Union as a whole,” a Commission spokesperson told Philenews.
“The risk was reinforced by the fact that up until recently it was not possible to revoke Cypriot citizenship from investors even if they appeared to pose security risks,” added the spokesperson.
The same person then referred to Nicosia’s recent statements that it would reconsider all previous citizenship applications.
“The Commission expects that the review will be thorough and whatever conclusions are reached these will be implemented promptly,” added the spokesperson obviously referring to passport revocations where violations are detected.
On Wednesday, Nouris called Al Jazeera’s reporting “propaganda” and an orchestrated campaign to smear Cyprus’ reputation.
“For the last 24 hours we have been witnessing an orchestrated effort by the Al Jazeera network, which, after succeeding in securing secret documents of the Republic of Cyprus, is attacking our country through distortion, deception and impressions,” Nouris said.
In response to questions asked by Al Jazeera regarding its citizenship-by-investment programme before publication, Nouris said his country “is functioning in absolute transparency”.
“No citizenship was granted in violation of the regulations in force, at the given time,” Nouris told Al Jazeera.
In total, The Cyprus Papers consist of almost 1,500 applications containing almost 2,500 names and spanning two years of Cyprus’s citizenship-by-investment programme.