MPs warn of new cycle of extensive naturalisations, propose amendment

A proposal under discussion within the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs may expose the state to a new cycle of thousands of naturalizations, according to MPs Charalambos Theopemptou and Alexandra Attalidou, writes PhileNews.

In their attempt to curb uncontrolled naturalizations of third-country citizens, the two MPs tabled an amendment suggesting that the number of naturalized foreigners not exceed 4,000.

However, their amendment has not gathered significant support in parliament.

According to Theopemptou and Attalidou’s rationale, the proposed upper limit of 4,000 foreigners is not arbitrary.

It corresponds to 1% of the electorate, and as they argue, any naturalisations above this limit may potentially lead to influencing the outcomes of electoral processes (by non-Cypriots) even in presidential elections.

Simultaneously, the two MPs aimed to exercise parliamentary oversight on an annual basis to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control regarding the unchecked naturalization of third-country citizens.

According to the proposal, talented and specialized foreigners, primarily in technology, could be naturalized when they meet specific criteria, including proficiency in the Greek language and knowledge of the country.

Moreover, it was mentioned before the Internal Affairs Committee that companies such as Facebook, Google, and TikTok are eyeing Cyprus and have expressed interest in establishing a presence on the island.

As stated, the proposed legislation aims to attract investments and harness technologies offered by companies based in Cyprus.

The President of DIKO, Nicolas Papadopoulos, who submitted the relevant bill, stated before the committee that this move would place Cyprus in a competitive position against other EU countries seeking to attract skilled individuals, offering incentives as well.

MPs participating in the discussion of the proposal supported it as a step in modernizing existing legislation concerning qualifications and criteria for naturalization.

They also highlighted that this proposal is an effort to attract investments and leverage technologies offered by companies based in Cyprus.

A representative from interested companies noted that in 2022, the technology sector contributed to 13% of the GDP compared to 7% in 2019.

They also mentioned that research showed members of Techisland, a tech association registered in Cyprus, spend 80% of their earnings in Cyprus (rent, livelihood, schools, etc).

According to Papadopoulos’s proposal, for a Cypriot to be naturalized, they must have legal and continuous residence in the Republic for the immediately preceding 12 months from the date of the application for naturalization.