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CBI programmes in ‘contested states’

With the introduction of a Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme in Moldova in July 2018, eleven states currently offer citizenship-by-investment under different conditions. The popularity of such programmes has meanwhile also attracted the attention of ‘contested states’ – entities formally part of one country but factually controlled by another political authority. In trying to gain international recognition and to compensate for their sovereignty deficit, a number of such contested polities have come to engage in citizenship policies, including through CBI programmes. Thus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), established in 1983, offers citizenship to foreign investors from Turkey and other countries if they provide exceptional service in the field of science, arts, culture and trade or invest in industry, trade and tourism.

Similarly, a CBI programme can be found in the territory of Abkhazia, on the Eastern coast of the Black Sea, which seceded from Georgia in the 1990s and subsequently gained de facto independence. According to a recent overview of ‘contested states’ by Gëzim Krasniqi, ‘Abkazia has also been active in using its economic growth, mostly stemming from Black Sea tourism, to attract foreign investors. In 2005, then President Sergei Bagapsh announced that he will grant citizenship to any foreign businessman who invests at least two million US dollars … Indeed, article 14(d) of the Abkhaz Citizenship Law offers the opportunity of naturalization “on favorable conditions” for certain categories, including “people, who have rendered great services to RA [the Republic of Abkhazia], or have the profession or qualification, which is of specific state interest for RA,” but does not specifically refer to investment as a service to the state’.

Author: Dr. Olivier Vonk

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