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Media Watch 2003

04 June 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Alexia Saoulli
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 4 June 2003.
Benefits for Turkish Cypriots only if once they register for tax and social insurance

TURKISH Cypriots are only allowed unemployment benefits if they fulfil certain prerequisites, a Labour Ministry official said yesterday.

He was responding to an article in Sunday’s Politis by Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent, which asked: “If an unemployed Turkish Cypriot goes to the Cyprus Republic’s Authorities presenting verification documents that he is a resident of the Republic and demands unemployment benefits, with what legal argument can his claim be rejected? Who can tell this citizen: ‘You live in the occupied areas?’ - and are therefore not allowed this benefit.”

Unemployment registrar official Emilios Christofi told the Cyprus Mail that Turkish Cypriots were allowed the same benefits as Greek Cypriots as long as they met specific criteria enabling them to claim unemployment benefits. “This is no different to what applies to Greek Cypriots,” he said.

“They have to have worked for more than six months or, if they’re claiming the benefit after July 1 this year, for a total period of 20 weeks during last year,” he said. If they made the claim before July 1, the 20 working weeks would apply to the previous year in 2001, Christofi explained.

“Turkish Cypriots who work in the United Nations for instance, are allowed to claim this benefit, because they contribute to the social insurance fund,” he said. By working in the occupied areas, however, they did not contribute to the fund in any way, because the government controlled areas did not have any agreements with the occupying regime in the north.

In the same article, Levent also referred to the new law allowing universal child benefit and said it was “another right you (Turkish Cypriots) can benefit from”.

However, Turkish Cypriots can only claim this social benefit if they are registered with the tax registrars, if they submit tax statements and if they pay social insurance, said Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.

“The government’s policy is to offer all Cyprus Republic citizens all the advantages that are offered by the Republic,” he said. But “rights, simultaneously mean obligations. If, therefore, Turkish Cypriots wish to claim child benefits then they will have to register with the tax register, to submit their tax statements, (and) their social insurance so that they can properly exercise their rights as part of the Republic,” said Chrysostomides.

He added that Turkish Cypriots who working in the free areas were already registered and regularly paid social insurance and taxes and were therefore allowed full benefits."