Category: Press releases

The University of Oxford welcomes the Turkish Cypriot President to mark its 40th anniversary as a nation

The President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) visited The University of Oxford, to mark the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the state, and set out his plans for a new co-operation agreement with Greek Cyprus.

At an event, last week (Monday 20th November) at St John’s College, the University of Oxford, President Ersin Tatar set out a new all-encompassing initiative for cooperation dialogue between TRNC and Greek Cyprus to secure peaceful coexistence on the island and create an environment of interdependence.

President Tatar was joined at the event by Ambassador Osman Koray Ertaş (Turkish Ambassador to the UK), Ambassador Çimen Keskin (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Representative to the UK), TRNC community representatives, and students of the University of Oxford.

President Tatar called for the North and South to cooperate on a wide range of issues, including hydrocarbon resources off the coast of Cyprus; electrical interconnectivity with the European Union’s grid via the Republic of Türkiye; effective use of solar energy as a means of transitioning to green energy; managing the Island’s freshwater resources; demining; and curbing of irregular migration.

The President reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution to the Cyprus issue based on sovereign equality and equal international status of the two sides.

Commenting on the visit, Chet Ramadan, Co-Chairman of the Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus campaign said:

It was an excellent initiative of the University of Oxford to host this event to mark the 40th anniversary of the TRNC, which means so much to the 300,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the UK.

The President set out his proposal for how the north and south can co-operate and co-exist peacefully which is absolutely essential given the volatility of the region.

Cyprus European Union Presidency flags over skylines Republic of Cyprus Credit: EUCyprus

Former Foreign Secretary says Cyprus shouldn’t have been allowed to join EU

Jack Straw calls on UK to “put two-state solution on the table”

Rt Hon Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, has said that the EU should never have allowed Cyprus to join the bloc and has called on the UK to facilitate a two-state solution to resolve the Cyprus issue.

Writing for Politico, Mr Straw, who served as UK Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006, makes the case that the EU should have “put Cyprus’ accession on ice” in 2004 and made it clear that only a united island would be allowed to join the EU. He writes:

The bloc’s failure (to which I was a party) means the EU itself has presided over a frozen conflict.

Mr Straw goes on to say that as a result of Cyprus joining the EU, the EU has “lost all serious leverage” over Greek Cypriots who believe that any peace deal with the north will be “less satisfactory than the status quo.

He calls on the international community to commit to a two-state solution to the Cyprus issue and draws on the 1993 split of Czechoslovakia as an example of a peaceful two-state solution.

Mr Straw urges the UK to “put the two-state solution on the table and seek to persuade other partners that this is the best way to unfreeze this conflict.

Chet Ramadan, Co-Chairman of Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus said:

The Greek Cypriots are in a hugely advantageous position in the negotiations because of their EU membership. They have no intention of resolving this conflict.

Mr Straw is right to call for a two-state solution. It is the only solution and the international community must help to resolve this frozen conflict at the soonest opportunity.


Fury as United Nations blocks food, fresh water and medicine supplies to Turkish Cypriots

The United Nations has come under fire for blockading a new humanitarian road which will improve the provisions of fresh water, food and medicine to the Turkish Cypriots in Pile.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) recently launched the Pile – Yiğitler road project, to provide better access to the village of Pile, which is a Turkish Cypriot village. The project was set up to expand the existing dirt road without having to travel via the Sovereign British Areas.

While Greek Cypriots can access Pile freely via Greek Cyprus without any customs control or restrictive measures from the Sovereign British bases, for the past 25 years, Turkish Cypriots have struggled to get key supplies into Pile due to restricted access. The road project was agreed upon as a condition for the opening of the Limnitis border crossing and there should be no reason for why its construction should be prevented now.

The United Nations did nothing in 1996 when the Larnaca – Dikhelia – Ayia Napa road was built within parts of the buffer zone and did not have Turkish Cypriot consent. This happened again in 2004 as the United Nations stood idly by when the Pile – Oroklini road was constructed by Greek Cypriots, which also passed through the buffer zone.

Commenting, Chet Ramadan of Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus said: “It beggars belief that the United Nations are standing in the way of an essential humanitarian project.

“For the past 25 years, Turkish Cypriots in Pile have been treated as second class citizens and this important project was about to change that.

“The UN must end this blockade immediately and allow for the easier passage of basic supplies into the village of Pile without unnecessary border stops.”


Hopes rise of avoiding ban on direct flights to paradise island

Campaigners believe they have found a safe and legal way of sidestepping the ban on direct flights from the UK and Northern Cyprus.

The breakthrough should prove a big bonus for British holidaymakers because prices on the idyllic Mediterranean island are a quarter less than in the southern part of the island.

At present, direct flights from the UK to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) are prohibited because the UK in common with EU states and the US does not recognise the country.

But campaigners have concluded that if planes flying into Turkish airspace – only 40 miles from the TRNC – then are given a new Turkish flight number they are effectively flying in from Turkey – the one country that does recognise North Cyprus.

Moves to engineer direct flights come just as a £450 million new airport has been opened in the TRNC. Ercan (Tymbou) Airport is now the largest airport on the entire island of Cyprus, with an annual capacity of 10 million passengers and a 3,100-metre runway.

The UK Government does not currently recognise the TRNC and as a result, will not authorise direct flights to Ercan Airport. Therefore, the TRNC community and British tourists seeking to visit Northern Cyprus have to weather travel via Istanbul and get a connecting flight to Ercan, or alternatively, fly to the South of Cyprus and drive up through the border, where they may encounter a hostile Greek Cypriot border force.

Direct flights would take just 4 hours from the UK and, as the TRNC uses Turkish lira instead of euros (as they do in Greek Cyprus), British holidaymakers would get a bargain. Living costs are estimated to be twenty five per cent cheaper in North Cyprus compared to the south, with restaurants, bars and tourist attractions all much cheaper.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed on the new runway for the opening of the new airport and expressed his hopes that its completion will “serve the stability of the TRNC and the region” before calling for the introduction of direct flights worldwide.

I invite the international community to heed the call of then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who admitted there is no UN resolution that could justify the isolation of our Turkish Cypriot brothers, and I invite them to lift these restrictions”, he said.

The President of the TRNC, Ersin Tatar, also spoke at the ceremony, calling on the international community to allow direct flights to the new airport.

He singled out the United Kingdom, where there is a sizeable Turkish Cypriot community, as an example, and said that freedom of travel is a human right.

Speaking about the new terminal, President Tatar said “the south hasn’t got an airport like this, and neither do most countries.

The Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus campaign are currently in discussions with all major commercial airlines in the region about the proposal and are optimistic that direct flights could begin “very soon”.

Chet Ramadan, Chairman of Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus, said:

This would make such a positive impact on both the TRNC community travelling between North Cyprus and the UK – particularly the elderly who struggle with connecting flights. It is time that Turkish Cypriots were treated as equals, as humans by the international community. We have been isolated for almost fifty years – this could be a significant step forward.

Dr Muhammet Yasarata, Founder and Managing Director of Cyprus Paradise, the leading travel operator to the TRNC, said:

Both British travellers and Turkish Cypriots have been facing challenges when attempting to fly to Northern Cyprus in both directions with layovers in Turkey significantly lengthening their journeys. This situation has been particularly difficult for many elderly individuals who find it hard to manage transit flights at Turkish airports. This circumstance is unjust and calls for improvement.

Peter Wilkins of the British Resident’s Society of Northern Cyprus said:

For too long, anyone travelling between the UK and North Cyprus have been made to jump through hoops. It is completely unnecessary, and this development is very welcome. The current situation is discriminatory towards the elderly, disabled and those with young families. It also causes major environmental issues as two flights are needed rather than one. It is disappointing that airlines have to use a loophole to get around this madness rather than the UK Government stepping in and doing the sensible thing by allowing direct flights.


Cyprus leaders endorse moves to bring closure to violence of the past

Plans are being made to exhume a mass grave in Cyprus dating back to the savage violence, led by Greek Eoka Terrorists, that wracked the island nearly 50 years ago.

The aim is to identify the remains of missing women and children massacred at Atilar in Northern Cyprus and return their remains to their families so they can be buried in accordance with their religious beliefs and traditions.

The move to bring closure to the horrors of the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which triggered Turkey’s military intervention in 1974, will today (Friday) win the endorsement of the leaders of the divided island.

The President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Ersin Tatar and Greek Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides will jointly visit the organisation responsible for identifying the total of 2002 people who went missing during the fighting of 1963 to 1964 and the events of 1974 on the island.

In a rare joint appearance, the two leaders will visit the Anthropological Laboratory of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) to highlight its effective humanitarian work – an organisation which has been insulated from politics since its formation more than forty years ago.

The CMP is a bi-communal body established in 1981 by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the participation of the United Nations. Following the establishment of an agreed list of missing persons, the CMP’s objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2002 persons (492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots), murdered by Greek Cypriots who went missing.

During their visit, President Tatar and President Christodoulides, will be briefed about the work of the laboratory and are expected to reiterate their support for the humanitarian work of CMP and urge credible witnesses who may have information about the burial sites to come forward.

The visit comes as the excavation of the Atlılar mass grave site in North Cyprus looks set to begin. Women, children and the elderly were massacred by Greek Cypriots who then buried them in a mass grave in Atlılar in August 1974.

The CMP consists of three Members, two appointed respectively by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and a third Member selected by the International Committee of the Red Cross and appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General. The Committee employs a bi-communal forensic team of more than 60 Cypriot archaeologists, anthropologists and geneticists, who conduct excavations throughout the island and anthropological and genetic analyses of remains at the CMP Anthropological Laboratory.

CMP does not attempt to establish the cause of death or attribute responsibility for the death of missing persons. Its objective is a humanitarian one, bringing closure to thousands of affected families through the return of the remains of their missing relatives.

A recent visit by a Portuguese Socialist MEP on behalf the EU to find out more about the CMP came under fire for only visiting the Greek Cypriots. Despite countless invitations to visit the TRNC to find out more about the missing people in Northern Cyprus, Isabel Santos MEP refused and was widely criticised for taking a political stance on a non- political issue.

President Tatar pushes UK lawmakers for direct flights between the UK and North Cyprus

Senior politicians from the UK and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) are set to join thirty thousand people from the Turkish Cypriot community to celebrate its history and culture this weekend in London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and former Conservative Party Leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, will join Ersin Tatar, President of the TRNC, on Sunday (July 2nd) to mark the Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival at Donkey Lane in Enfield, north London.

President Tatar is expected to use the event to protest that there are no direct flights between the UK and the TRNC , which makes life so difficult for the hundreds of thousands of Turkish Cypriots who travel between the two countries.

Direct flights would also mean that the TRNC would become a more popular destination with British tourists.

Speaking before the event, President Tatar said:

The Turkish Cypriot community is thriving in Britain. 300,000 Turkish Cypriots have been welcomed into British society.

I look forward to joining so many in London to celebrate our history, our culture and our important relationship with Britain and British people.

I want to further enhance our relationship with Britain by establishing direct flights between our two nations which will make it so much easier for the Turkish Cypriot community and will enable us to welcome so many more British friends to the TRNC.

The festival, organised by the Council of Turkish Cypriots Association (CTCA), is the sixth to take place, with the inaugural event taking place in 2017. However, the past three have been held online because of the pandemic.

The event will bring together tens of thousands of families and friends from the Turkish Cypriot community.

There will be traditional folk dancing, an array of food stalls, arts and crafts and funfair rides and the day will be topped off with a live performance from Işın Karaca, the British-born Turkish Cypriot pop star.

One of the event organisers, Chet Ramadan said:

After three years of marking this event online, it will be fantastic to celebrate face to face once again.

This festival will bring the Turkish Cypriot community together to mark our unique culture.”