No more "golden passports" from Cyprus

In response to massive criticism from the European Commission and others, Cyprus has announced the end of a controversial scheme in which it granted citizenship in exchange for investments. The TV news channel Al Jazeera had revealed that high-ranking Cypriot officials and politicians were actively helping dubious characters to secure "golden passports". The government's decision won't change much, commentators say.

Open/close all quotes
Nowaja Gaseta (RU) /

They'll go to Malta instead

The trade in EU passports is far from finished because there are other countries with the same business model, Novaya Gazeta points out:

“The EU Commission has noted that 'European values are not sold', and stressed that it had previously expressed 'serious concern' about 'investor citizenship' programmes. It is now investigating whether the Cypriot programme complies with EU laws, and will probably find reasons to reiterate its concern. But potential new EU citizens needn't worry because there's still Malta. When you add up the necessary real estate investments, payments to the country's National Development Fund and surcharges for relatives, a family passport package should cost you around 1.5 million euros.”

Kathimerini (CY) /

Catharsis is the only way

Ending the citizenship-through-investment scheme won't solve the problem of corruption in Cyprus, columnist Andreas Andreou stresses in Kathimerini:

“There is a way, however, namely catharsis. Those responsible for the moral decay and corruption should be sent to prison immediately. That includes politicians, business people, lawyers, accountants, government officials, ordinary officials, etc. Their network reaches everywhere. Otherwise we will never be able to clear our bad name. … In my opinion the government abolished the programme too rashly. First of all it should have fired those responsible and brought them to justice. ... Instead of repairing the whole system, once again only a single programme has been scrapped.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

The government reacted too late

Cyprus could really do with the passport programme right now, the Cyprus Mail notes:

“There is no doubt the programme has been abused in the past and its rules violated, but it is ironic that it will be scrapped just when it has been made much stricter and three reputable, foreign companies have been hired to carry out due diligence of every application. The government left it too late to take corrective measures, which is why it has had to scrap a programme that had greatly helped the recovery of the economy after the collapse of 2013 and would also have helped the country cope with the current economic slowdown.”

Haravgi (CY) /

What a disgrace

Haravgi examines the dimensions of the scandal:

“They very carelessly issued 'golden' passports not to serious and reliable investors, but to fraudsters and tax evaders. They gave Cypriot passports to a whole harem because President Anastasiadis made two or three family trips with his Saudi friend's private jet! One of the members of the Saudi family has two wives, it was reported in the parliamentary audit committee, and both of them received 'golden passports'. The 'golden passports' were issued to Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs living abroad. ... An entire industry sprang up around the 'golden passports', shunting millions of euros into the pockets of a small group of lawyers, accountants and building contractors.”