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Politics

Britain’s Political Rivals Want Flights Allowed to Occupied Cyprus Side

LONDON – With the 50th anniversary approaching in July of Turkish invasions that seized the northern third of Cyprus, a group of 50 prominent British politicians from rival sides said they want an end to a ban on direct flights to the island’s occupied side.

They sent a letter to Foreign Secretary Lord Straw denouncing what they called a “punitive and unfair” prohibition put on the Ercan Airport where direct international flights aren’t allowed – only those from Turkey.

That’s because no country in the world apart from Turkey recognizes the self-declared republic that’s been isolated for half a century, the letter’s signees reportedly hoping whichever government is seated after coming elections will allow flights to the occupied side, said the British newspaper The Independent.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cyprus-parliamentarians-direct-flights-jack-straw-b2553442.html

Cyprus was a former colony of the UK, which still keeps military bases on the Greek-Cypriot side that’s a member of the European Union that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005.

Turkey also bars Cypriot planes and ships which wasn’t mentioned by the British politicians who want flights from the UK to go to the occupied side, which is struggling to attract tourists who go to the Greek-Cypriot side.

The parliamentarians, former and present, stated in their letter that the Turkish-Cypriot occupied side that includes a standing army of  30,000 Turkish soldiers, has been treated unfairly and should have flight privileges.

They called for “The commencement of direct flights from the United Kingdom to Ercan International Airport – the largest airport on the island of Cyprus,” slighting the Greek-Cypriot side which is home to 10,000-15,000 British expatriates.

They said they want the UK to end “one of the most restrictive policies of any country in Europe when it comes to air travel to Ercan,” although the airport is on a side of the island that’s unlawfully occupied.

They said they’re worried that if the UK doesn’t move to recognize the occupied side in some fashion that it will “risk letting countries such as Russia and Iran do so instead – fundamentally challenging the UK’s strategic foothold in the eastern Mediterranean.”

That plays into Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar’s demand that the United Nations and world recognize the occupied territory after he rejected any idea of resuming reunification talks out of hand.

The last round collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci – beaten by Tatar in October, 2020 – and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish army would never leave and as they demanded the right to invade further when they wanted.

Chet Ramadan, founder of Freedom and Fairness for northern Cyprus, said: “It is time that the UK ends their regressive ban on flights to the TRNC. This is something that was promised 20 years ago and has yet to be fulfilled.”

He was using the acronym that no country apart from Turkey calls the occupied side and said that, “Around 300,000 Turkish Cypriots live in the UK, and 15,000 British expats live in Northern Cyprus. The onerous and unnecessary flight rules only create a cruel burden for those wishing to visit family members or go on holiday.”

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