Bargain Mediterranean holidays for Brits on offer if airlines strike new deal with Turkey 1 Aug 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Airlines are being asked to consider a deal with Turkey which would allow direct flights to North Cyprus.
By David Maddox - Political Editor
Bargain holidays for Brits would be on offer if a 49-year international empasse could be resolved with a deal between airlines and Turkey, a campaign group has claimed.
The Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus believe they have found "a safe and legal way" to end a ban on direct flights from the UK to the disputed state.
If successful it will make North Cyrpus easier for holidaymakers to visit with prices around 25 percent below those in the Republic of Cyprus because the breakaway self-declared state uses the Turkish lira instead of the euro.
Campaigners are contacting airlines operating in the region to ask them to make a deal with Turkey which would allow them to change destination once they were in Turkish airspace.
It would mean that Turkey's air traffic control gave them a new flight number once they entered their airspace allowing them to fly directly to North Cyprus just 40 miles away.
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.
The disputed territory is the result of Turkish troops being sent to North Cyprus in 1974 to protect Turkish Cypriots after a greek nationalist military junta took over in Cyprus.
Only Turkey fully recognises the TRNC and allows direct flights to its airport.
Moves to engineer direct flights come just as a £450million 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.
Direct flights would take just 4 hours from the UK for holidaymakers, expats and North Cypriots instead of having to change at Istanbul.
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.
He said: “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 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.”
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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.”
There are also thousands of British expats living in North Cyprus.
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
Source: Daily Express
BRS Lobbying Campaign 9 Jul 2023
Statement on the open meeting with His Excellency, Irfan Saddiq, British High Commissioner
Firstly, we would like to put on record our thanks to the British High Commissioner for agreeing to meet with the British population who choose to reside in the TRNC.
The meeting re-affirmed the passion people hold for the Cyprus issue, and certainly from the British perspective, the injustices they feel placed upon Northern Cyprus. It also highlighted that still, after over 70 years, there are widespread differences and interpretations of significant historical events as to what happened when, who did what to whom and why and why Turkish Cypriots have suffered the consequences from ill-informed or ignorant governments, states and unions. This is evidenced by the ‘land grab' statement and the confusion over the 1960 Constitution statement along with the subsequent denial statement by the BHC and the FCDO.
If His Excellency's comments are representative of those of the current British Government, we find it astounding that as a country of global significance, a country that proposes free and fair values, and more significantly a Guarantor Power of Cyprus, lacks the foresight to help alleviate any humanitarian injustices simply because of tired, out-dated UN resolutions.
In terms of His Excellency's comment ‘good luck with that' referencing the BRS lobbying campaign, we found the comment somewhat sarcastically relayed rather than any genuine encouragement. Not very diplomatic from a diplomat! Our response is that ‘it is not luck that we need, it is the British Government to treat us equally and fairly and with respect by listening to how we have been discriminated against for over 50 years'.
BRITISH DIPLOMAT CAUSES OUTRAGE 1 Jul 2023
By ELTAN HALIL
UK High Commissioner says second phase of Turkish Peace Operation was a ‘land grab'
THE United Kingdom's most senior official in Cyprus, High Commissioner Irfan Siddiq, sparked outrage by referring to the second phase of the 1974 Turkish Peace Operation in Cyprus as a “land grab”.
Mr Siddiq, who also caused a stir by saying that the 1960 Republic of Cyprus Constitution is “no longer in effect” due to the changes “on the ground” caused by the Turkish intervention, made the highly controversial comment at a public event held in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
He was speaking to a group of around a hundred British residents of North Cyprus who had been invited to a “town hall” style meeting at the Olive Tree Hotel in Çatalköy on Tuesday, June 27.
While Mr Siddiq has visited North Cyprus before to meet with the TRNC leadership and other Turkish Cypriots, this was the first time that Mr Siddiq, who took up his post last summer, has met publicly with members of the British expat community in the TRNC.
Speaking exclusively to Cyprus Today ahead of the event, the top British diplomat had said he is “conscious that there's a large British resident community here in the North” and that he is “keen to keep good relations with them”.
“Because of the particular nature of the North, the fact that the self-declared TRNC is not recognised by anybody apart from Turkey, that does create some particular administrative challenges for the residents. So it's important for us to understand that, which is why I'm here to meet with them.”
However the public gathering, which was also attended by two officials from the British High Commission in South Nicosia, was dominated by the Cyprus problem and the UK's stance on it, with tensions running high at times.
Referring to the events of 1974 following a question from the audience, Mr Siddiq – who later attempted to prevent this newspaper from publishing his comments at the public meeting by claiming he had been speaking “off the record” and warning that there would be “consequences” if we did – said: “The reality is that the 1974 conflict, some would argue . . . the intervention was justified under the system of guarantees.
“From my reading of history, there were two phases to that operation, and arguably, the first phase [on July 20] was legitimate, and the second [on August 14] was a land grab.”
His use of the phrase “land grab”, which the Oxford dictionary describes as an “act of buying or taking land illegally or in a way that is considered morally wrong”, triggered outrage among members of the audience.
One man shouted “you're talking absolute garbage” and recommended that Mr Siddiq “read this book”, The Death of Friendship by Turkish Cypriot Türkan Aziz, while others said “No” and continued to interrupt Mr Siddiq, who at one point threatened to walk out.
“If you would like me to speak then I'm happy to speak, if you would like to speak I can leave and you can speak,” he said.
Continuing to talk while being heckled by some members of the audience, Mr Siddiq added: “I understand it's emotive and I said I respect the frustration, but there's no facts in politics, there's perceptions. So it's a reality that there was a . . . Greek military junta that stimulated a coup [on July 15, 1974], and there was a risk of Enosis [union of Cyprus with Greece] which triggered a Turkish military intervention. . . At that point, there was a pause in the fighting and before any agreement could be reached, there was a second wave, which took a lot more territory and land.
“It's clear that there wasn't confidence on the Turkish side that any political agreement would be satisfactory and therefore they wanted to create a boundary that gave them strategic depth and allow the presence of more Turkish troops.
“Now my view of international law is that first intervention was arguably justified because it was a direct response to this risk of Enosis and a change to the Constitutional status, which enables and allows for military intervention by the guarantor powers.
“But they [Türkiye] did that to stop that risk [and] that risk was no longer there now once they'd come.
“The second phase was a policy decision. And that policy decision to try to create [a] strategic buffer has consequences, and the consequences, just like, and although people don't like the analogy and the intervention and the justification is totally different, but there is a war going on in Ukraine now because Russia is trying to change borders. . . And there is no legally sanctioned way to change territorial boundaries without UN support.
“So what the TRNC, by declaring its independence, and what Turkey has done, by occupying a larger part of the land than the defensive operation to stop Enosis required, is create political facts on the ground which have consequences.
“And the consequences [are that] the TRNC is isolated because nobody will recognise it, because you cannot establish a state through a military operation – that's what Russia's trying to do in the Donbas region [of Ukraine].
“So as a consequence, the only way that this will be resolved is through a political negotiation. “And until there is a settlement, that means that the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriots will be isolated.
“That's the unfortunate consequences of the way that the politics played out. Now that doesn't mean that Turkish Cypriots don't have rights, or shouldn't be treated fairly, or shouldn't have the same aspirations. Of course they have inherent rights as citizens of that united Cypriot state that was established in 1960.
“Now I know that a lot of people say that they were forced out [in 1963], therefore it's not their fault, that's a point of view I respect, but the reality is they're not going to have the same rights until you have a settlement which is agreed, because nowhere in international law, in the UN, will anybody recognise that rights can be accrued through a military operation.
“And if that is an uncomfortable truth, I'm sorry to share an uncomfortable truth, but it is a truth, which is why there is such a strong reaction to any attempt to change borders by military force, as we're seeing in Ukraine now.
“The justifications are totally different, but the reality is the same thing, that the world organises to protect the core principle of territorial integrity.”
Mr Siddiq's comments regarding the second phase of the Turkish Peace Operation and likening it to Russia's invasion of Ukraine will likely anger the TRNC and Türkiye, which say it was necessary to protect Turkish Cypriots, who had been forced into enclaves and were still at risk of massacre.
These included around 13,000 Turkish Cypriots who were besieged within the old walls of Gazimagusa until they were liberated by the Turkish Army on August 16, 1974.
In the period between July 20 and August 15, 1974, attacks continued on the Turkish Cypriot population.
The grim justification for the second phase of the Turkish military operation was further supported with the discovery of the mass graves of civilians, including young children, from villages such as Murataga, Atlilar, Sandallar and Tochni (Taskent).
Michael Stephen, a former British MP and barrister, listed the atrocities that had been committed against Turkish Cypriots across the island during the days between the first and second phases of the Peace Operation, and which were documented in detail by the international press, such as the Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, France Soir, Die Zeit, the Daily Telegraph.
Providing written evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee as part of a 2004 inquiry into British government policy on Cyprus, he wrote: “Some people argue that having defeated the Sampson coup, and Makarios having returned to the Presidential Palace, Turkey should have withdrawn and left the Turkish Cypriots again at the mercy of Makarios, the man who had been responsible for the earlier massacres.
“That proposition has only to be stated for its absurdity to be appreciated. It must be remembered that UN troops had been in Cyprus since March 1964 and had failed to protect the Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots were later to see what happened to the Muslim people of Srebrenica under international protection.
“Turkey could discharge its treaty obligation only by providing a safe haven for the Turkish Cypriots in which they could live in peace and freedom, and by encouraging them to reach a new political arrangement with the Greek Cypriots in which they could play their part as political equals in the government of the island.”
During the meeting with British residents, Mr Siddiq also said that the TRNC authorities have been taking a tougher stance when it comes to cooperating with the British and UN authorities on the island by “challenging the Greek Cypriot preference for a bicommunal solution”, such as ending bicommunal initiatives, which is: “Making the Greek Cypriots think that it's not actually so comfortable to just sit on their seat and say ‘we'll continue to isolate the Turkish Cypriots, they will feel the pain, at some point they'll come and if they don't, we're fine anyway, so it doesn't bother us'. I think that logic and that analysis is changing.”
He added that the new Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Christodoulides has been making it clear that the “status quo is not comfortable” and that “if something isn't done to try to create a new push for a resumption of talks and resolution of the problem, there's a risk that the North would be lost”.
Mr Siddiq continued: “I think that risk is becoming more and more real for the Greek Cypriots. “And therefore, I think despite there being a huge amount of scepticism, I think they are genuine when they say they want to resume talks and they really want to get an agreement.”
Stating that the “incentives and pressures” for a solution have changed since the last attempt in 2017, and referring to the “difficult economic situation” in Türkiye due to the devaluation of the Turkish lira, Mr Siddiq said there are “potential incentives that could be put on the table for Turkey” but that the “biggest problem at the moment” is the “massive lack of trust and confidence between the two sides” and that “something needs to be done to bridge that trust deficit”.
“And because the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey aren't the ones who are advocating for a federal solution now, it probably needs to come from the Greek Cypriot side,” he said.
“In my discussions with the Greek Cypriot leadership, I think they've begun to internalise that they might need to do something. They've started with this pitch for a bigger EU role, which essentially is trying to make the benefits and incentives for Turkey through a better relationship with the EU clearer.”
With leadership elections this year in South Cyprus, Türkiye and Greece now over, Mr Siddiq said he believes a “window of opportunity” has now opened for the Greek Cypriot leadership to “try to breach that trust deficit and convince Turkish Cypriots and Turkey that it's worth coming back to the table”.
TRNC TRYING TO ‘CAUSE PAIN'
Describing how the attitude of the TRNC authorities has shifted recently, Mr Siddiq said: “The self-declared TRNC wants to be recognised and wants to be normalised and have relations with the world.
“It doesn't like the fact that nobody other than Turkey recognises it. So whereas in the past, maybe we had an understanding with the TRNC, and they tried to facilitate administrative challenges, because they wanted to have a relationship with us, I think they've got tired of waiting for us to accede to their position, and so they've shifted position a little bit.
“And they are in many cases, just like they're doing with the Greek Cypriots, [where they are] deliberately creating problems where they can, for us . . . they've chosen to make things harder, and that's a deliberate choice for them.
“And it's consistent with their approach that ‘if people won't support our vision of how we want to operate then, we won't make things easy for you'.”
Giving one example of an area where, according to Mr Siddiq, the TRNC is making matters more difficult for British officials, he referred to the problem of children who are subject to court orders in the UK being abducted, usually by one of their parents, and taken to North Cyprus, an issue that has previously been reported by this newspaper.
“We often have situations where there are children who are potentially at risk in the North, [and] the caregivers [are] maybe not even in a fit state to support them.
“And we've asked for access to check that the children are OK, that they're not being exploited or abused, and they won't give us the access, don't give us any information because they sort of hide behind a very draconian data protection law and say, ‘No, this is our responsibility. We're not going to give you any assistance on this'.
“So it has very material impact, and we've asked them, it's a humanitarian issue, it's a safeguarding issue, [but] they're not budging.
“So, unfortunately, on some of the other administrative issues where they have potentially the authority to make things easier for us . . . I don't think that they are necessarily going to go out their way to make things easy for us because they want, just like with the Greek Cypriots, to cause pain for anybody in the world who is not adhering to or accepting their world view, that they should be recognised as a separate state.
“And we've had quite high level discussions with the Turkish Cypriot authorities on this, and they haven't really budged.”
‘FRINGES AGAINST RECONCILIATION'
Responding to comments from another member of the audience about Greek Cypriot “ethnic cleansing” and Eoka terrorists, Mr Siddiq replied to applause from other attendees: “If you think all Greek Cypriots, the majority of them, are fascist terrorists – that's what you sort of suggested, that they are terrorists – if you think that they are intrinsically inimical and have hatred towards Turkish Cypriots, and can't reconcile, I respect your point of view. I don't agree with that.
“I live on the South side. I meet our Greek Cypriots. I think people across the world are just people. And there's history that creates bad blood. But we shouldn't live in history because we'll never progress.
“So I can see Turkish Cypriots keen to see reconciliation. I can see Greek Cypriots keen to see reconciliation. I can see some fringes who are against that, but I think they are fringes and they are the minority and I think we strive to work with the majority to try to create a better future.
“Now if you've given up on that, that's your right, and I respect your position. I haven't given up on that. And I'm going to work to try to realise that reconciliation. And maybe I'll get nowhere as you think I will. But I'll try and I'd rather spend my life trying to achieve better outcomes, than give up.”
In response to another comment from a member of the audience about the difference between the content of history books provided to schools on both sides of Cyprus, Mr Siddiq had this to say: “There's a contested history . . . and there are competing narratives. And what's really interesting for me is that on both sides you have this sense of victimhood. It's as clear on the other side as it is here.
“So here [the Turkish Cypriots are] numerically smaller feel like, you know, the Greek Cypriots are isolating and dominating [them] . . . and on the other side, they feel the same as a smaller number against Turkey, and Turkey is dominating. . . those competing narratives, and those different perceptions, are the root of the problem, because it means that people don't understand the other.”
On the issue of increasing military ties between South Cyprus and the US and France, who are not guarantor countries of Cyprus, Mr Siddiq said the 1960 Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus does not prevent it from having relations with other countries.
He also said that following the UK's exit from the European Union, British citizens are now “third country” nationals.
Mr Siddiq also denied that British citizens are being “discriminated” against for living in the TRNC, telling the audience: “You chose to come here knowing it is not a recognised state.”
During the public meeting, which lasted for well over an hour, other topics such as the one-day “TOM” car insurance for British citizens wanting to drive from the TRNC to South Cyprus, problems accessing the Waynes Keep Military Cemetery located in the UN Buffer Zone, end of life care and the ageing population, and passports and the urgent collection of travel documents were also discussed.
Mr Siddiq said he would be very happy to hold another meeting with British citizens to talk “less about history” and more about consular matters.
On the British Residents Society's ongoing campaign to lobby the British government and MPs to end the isolation of North Cyprus, Mr Siddiq said “good luck with that”.
British Residents Society chairman Julian Mawdesley, who was among those who listened to what Mr Siddiq had to say, said the High Commissioner “brought no new surprises” for residents living in North Cyprus.
Sharing his “personal interpretation” of the gathering, Mr Mawdesley said Mr Siddiq is on a “hiding to nothing when it comes to the TRNC”.
“We all need to understand that no matter what the British High Commissioner thinks personally, he is the representative of the British Government and has to support ‘the party line'.
“Yes, he made some glaring errors on history and land ownership, for which the attendees were quick to jump on, but how much of this comes from advisers?”
Mr Siddiq's public meeting with British people living in North Cyprus is believed to be the first since a former high commissioner, Matthew Kidd, met with British residents at the Le Chateau Lambousa hotel in Lapta in October 2017.
That too created controversy, when Mr Kidd said that international recognition of the TRNC would be “dangerous”, leading to life peer Lord Maginnis asking the British government in Parliament if it would be taking any “disciplinary action” against Mr Kidd.
President Tatar with BRS Representatives 19 Apr 2023
One of regular meetings between President Tatar and the BRS to discuss topics of mutual interest and concerns.
BRS with President Tatar 15 Apr 2023
BRS Committee members and representatives of other NGOs attended a reception in the garden of the presidential residence in Lefkosa for the book launch of President Tatar´s biography "A Cry for Justice". The book author Jennifer Vardy, a long standing BRS member, and President Ersin Tatar held speeches about the making of the book and the vision of a future Cyprus as equal parties side by side with the Greek Cypriots...
L-R: Kerem Haser, Hakan Redif, President Tatar, Peter Wilkins, Julian Mawdesley
THE BRICK WALL 1 Apr 2023
By Stephen Day
At long last, there are signs that the BRS sponsored coalition of organisations are getting their message through to elements of the UK Parliament, that have never before considered the injustices that have been inflicted on TRNC for decades. Last week, the front page of Cyprus Today said it all. New parliamentary voices are being raised in the Commons and in the media. The brick wall of UK Foreign Office intransigence, that has led to nothing but repetitive, diplomatic Cyprus failure, for 50 years, is now being challenged. The consequent injustice inflicted on Turkish Cypriots AND TRNC connected British nationals (long overlooked), is now in the public domain. Not before time.
First came Paul Bristow MP (a recent TRNC visitor) who has simply pointed out, in a UK article, that all attempts, since 1963, to resolve the Cyprus issue on the bases of present UK policy, had FAILED. A truth as plain as the nose on my face. He even went so far as to ask if a Christian European country would have been treated the same way as the largely Muslim TRNC has been. A good question.
Then Lord Rogan, former President of the Ulster Unionist Party pitched in with a published letter to the Daily Telegraph, calling for the right of the TRNC to exist to be recognised.
Next came Brendan Clarke-Smith MP, another recent visitor to TRNC, who tabled parliamentary questions about direct flights to Foreign Secretary James Cleverley, someone whose past mutterings have shown some elements of sympathy, prior to his elevation to the Foreign Office. Significantly, one of Clarke-Smith's tabled questions directly asked about the effect of no direct flights on British nationals (be they indigenous Brits or of Turkish Cypriot ancestry). That is an aspect of Foreign Office imposed injustice, ON ITS OWN CITIZENS, that is rarely considered.
Back came the unsurprising response, from Parliamentary Under Secretary Leo Docherty - there are "no plans to authorise direct flights" he said. Then came his second statement of the mind bogglingly obvious - "the UK does not recognise the TRNC". Well! I'd never have guessed it, would you? In other words, not a scintilla of original thought to be seen and no attempt to consider whether parroting the same old Foreign Office (FO) song might just be a factor in ensuring the Cyprus issue has stuck in the mud of failure for 50 years. Talk about banging your head against a brick wall! Has that wall been there so long, that these geniuses at the FO cannot imagine a world without it? I suspect so.
The question of the effects on British nationals of no direct flights, was answered by Jesse Norman, Minister of State at the Department of Transport. The UK "recognises the inconvenience to passengers, including British nationals". Well, that's big of them, isn't it? (No justification of why a British government imposes that restriction on its own citizens appears to have crossed his mind. What's new?).
His only explanation? Here goes - "only the Republic of Cyprus may designate Ercan as an international airport" (that is THE PROBLEM Mr Norman, not the solution).Why is that so? Because the UK government insists on granting all diplomatic, political and trade rights to just ONE of two Cyprus communities (namely the Greek Cypriots) at the direct expense of the other (the Turkish Cypriots). Very fair, very balanced (like not), isn't it?
All this from a British Government that should have the DUTY to uphold the rights of BOTH Cyprus communities, as a Guarantor Power and signatory to the London and Zurich Agreements, that set up the "Republic of Cyprus" (in 1960). The constitution of which was effectively first destroyed by Makarios in 1963 and finally (in 1974) by the Greek Colonels and the Greek Cypriot EOKA B coup. Why does the UK still recognise a power sharing state that doesn't exist? God knows. Apparently it is because UK policy is "in accordance with the international community". So that makes it all OK, does it? Might not the "international community" have got it wrong for 50 failed years? You bet your bottom Turkish lira that they have.
Could Turkish Cypriots, or TRNC connected British nationals be treated any worse, for God's sake? What have they done wrong? Are they in a pariah state like Russia, China, North Korea or Iran? No, they are damned well not! They live in a democratic, largely Muslim, but essentially non-sectarian, religiously free, secular state. Have they joined the Taliban, or Al Queda, spreading death, destruction and religious bigotry around the world? No they have not - in any way. So why treat them as though they have? Isolated, cut off and denigrated, far more effectively than even the Covid virus has been. Their only real crime? To have survived genocide and annihilation at the hands of Greek Cypriot extremists, going back as far as the pre-Cyprus independence "Cyprus Emergency". Something the so called "Republic of Cyprus" has never forgiven them for.
The British Foreign Office needs to get its head around one important fact. Greek Cypriot goals, violent or not, are founded on just one all encompassing desire. It was never Cyprus "independence" and it still isn't. It is Union with Greece. As far as they are concerned, Cyprus is GREEK and the Turkish Cypriots have no place in it, except in a subservient role. That is why the Cyprus issue is never resolved. That is why British , UN and EU policy fails. As the former colonial master AND Guarantor Power, the UK, of all nations, should know that. The fact it doesn't is a disgrace.
The BRS/coalition lobbying campaign is working. If you haven't yet joined in the effort, now is the time to do so. That FO brick wall is crumbling. Knock it down!Source: Cyprus Today
Can Cyprus ever be reunited? Interview with President Tatar 30 Mar 2023
An hour long debate hosted by Iain Dale
Iain Dale talks to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community in northern Cyprus, President Ersin Tatar, and the Cypriot High Commissioner to the UK Andreas Kakouris and takes calls from LBC listeners on the future of Cyprus.Source: LBC News
Video Interview re Lobbying 15 Mar 2023
BRS Lobby Update
With thanks to Chris ElliottSource: Cyprusscene
Respect the Elderly 11 Mar 2023
Please click here to download the pdf.Source: Cyprus Today
Britain can use its Brexit freedoms to end the Cyprus crisis, says AMBASSADOR UMIT YALCIN 11 Mar 2023
Britain has the opportunity to use its Brexit freedoms to resolve the crisis in Cyprus.
I have witnessed an unprecedented chain of events during my tenure as the Turkish Ambassador in London: Brexit, the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown, war in Ukraine, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the devastating earthquakes in Turkiye on 6 February.
Following the tragic earthquakes in my country, the UK Government did not hesitate to offer a helping hand immediately.
The UK Government sent a team of 77 search and rescue experts. UK medical and aid teams continue to support the Turkish efforts, including through a field hospital, and to provide urgent relief supplies to survivors.
We are also grateful that the UK match-funded the first £5 million of public donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Turkiye-Syria earthquake appeal. UK Development Minister Andrew Mitchell visited the affected areas on 19 February.
The Turkish nation will always remember this solidarity, which is the symbol of the point reached in our bilateral relations.
I had the honour of accompanying His Majesty King Charles III when he met volunteers working for dispatching relief materials, of the UK's Turkish community on 14 February.
His warm and caring approach, which motivated the Turkish community in the UK, has taken its place as a fairly moving and unforgettable gesture in my memories.
I am happy to say that bilateral relations between Turkiye and the UK have further developed during my tenure. In the post-Brexit period, UK and Türkiye have intensified political contacts as staunch NATO allies and strategic partners.
We signed the Free Trade Agreement just after the finalisation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and European Union.
The Free Trade Agreement is being expanded to include services, investments and additional agricultural products. Our bilateral trade volume has reached $18.9 billion.
We are pleased that Turkiye is among the top 10 favourite tourism destinations for British tourists with a new record level of 3.4 million visits.
Our officials not only exchange views on bilateral matters, but also they maintain close contact with regard to regional and global issues, such as the war in Ukraine, the Black Sea grain deal and the situation in Syria.
However, there is another key area where the UK can play a hugely important role.
Cyprus remains divided along the UN enforced Green Line. It has been divided since the bloody coup d'etat that forced Türkiye to intervene to protect Turkish Cypriots from being massacred by Greek Cypriot forces.
I believe that the UK can play a more active role in finding a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict in Cyprus.
The UK has a responsibility to Cyprus. Brexit was about Britain re-emerging on the international stage, to embrace its historic roles and deep cultural ties around the world. Cyprus is one of those places.
The UK has a historic relationship with Cyprus, a position as a UN Security Council permanent member and is home to hundreds of thousands of Turkish Cypriots.
The UK is in a unique position and holds clear responsibility to create a peaceful resolution to Cyprus' division. For me, the best solution would be to recognise the fully functioning democracy of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The UK recognised Cypriot desire to be independent 60 years ago – why does it not recognise the desire of Turkish Cypriots to be free from a government that has repeatedly (at best) turned a blind eye to discrimination targeting them.
It is an honour and a responsibility to represent the Republic of Türkiye as Ambassador anywhere in the world. However, it has been a special privilege to be the Turkish Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
The past four and a half years have been the most remarkable and fulfilling period of my professional life.
While I am approaching the end of my career in the diplomatic service, I will always keep the UK and its people in a special place in my heart.Click here for more info Source: Daily Express
GOOD OR BAD? 4 Mar 2023
By Stephen Day
Day by Day column: Stephen Day
Do you want the good news first, or the bad? Just as things are going along swimmingly, there's always something comes along to stick a spanner in the works, now isn't there? Indeed there is! Here goes...
First, the good news. There's quite a lot of it. First of all the BRS sponsored campaign lobbying the British Foreign Office and MP's, to lift decades of embargoes on TRNC, is in its early stages, but going along nicely. The coalition that has been built includes the BRS itself, YTC (Young Turkish Cypriots), the three London based Turkish Cypriot organisations "Embargoed", CTCA (Council of Turkish Cypriots Abroad) and the "Freedom & Fairness" campaign. Never has such a broad coalition of intent, in the Turkish Cypriot cause, been created before. TRNC media have given great support, including Cyprus Today and the ever active Chris Elliot, with his regular supportive podcasts.
So far hundreds of letters have been sent to British MP's and the Foreign Office, by British expatriates and Turkish Cypriot Brits, via the BRS website and advice centres. The result, with hundreds of other letters no doubt to follow, is that TRNC has just been visited by 5 British Parliamentarians, including 3 Tory MP's, an Ulster Unionist Peer and a Labour Baroness, on a fact finding mission. They have since defended their visit in the face of massive Greek Cypriot objections, including one of their number receiving direct threats. It did not put them off. If anything, it strengthened their resolve to hear the campaign's case, especially the fact that thousands of British nationals, not just Turkish Cypriots, are badly affected by the embargoes. A point completely overlooked by the UK Foreign Office.
The campaign receives no financial support from either the Turkish or TRNC governments and it is intended to keep it that way. The coalition will eventually move the campaign on, beyond letter writing. If that includes an eventual delegation of the coalition members to the door of the UK Foreign Office, clutching a petition to the Foreign Secretary, with key public figures in attendance, think what an impact that would have. National UK newspapers and GB News TV have already met with campaign leaders. The media trickle would then become a flood.
Soon to come up, is a London based reception for President Tatar, in the Westminster district, to which MP's will be invited, organised by coalition member, "Peace and Freedom". I shall be there to give what support is required. In other words, when all these things are considered, the campaign is going well, despite still having a long way to go.
So much for the good news. Here comes the spanner in the works - the TRNC government comes along and slaps an extra "Title Deed Transfer" tax burden on foreign buyers of TRNC property. Not a slight one, but a whopper! Registering a title deed for foreign buyers will cost TWICE what Turkish Cypriots or Turkish nationals will pay and the 50% discount for a first time property purchase has been scrapped. No prior warnings, no phasing in, but with immediate effect. Great eh? Where does that leave sellers and foreign buyers already in contractual commitments, awaiting completion and now facing additional, unexpected costs, which in some cases, may well lead to the messed up sale collapsing. It leaves them both in the deep proverbial.
Now let us be fair about this, the TRNC government is probably right in saying, that as things stood, young Turkish Cypriots were being forced out of a housing market they could not afford. I understand that. Indeed, I have no objection to the revenue raised being used for "social housing and "earthquake costs in Turkey". That sounds fine. I can't say the same for the money being used to "compensate Greek Cypriots", but hey, ho!
No, it is not government motivation that I object to. It is the way it has been introduced that winds me up (I'll come to that in a minute). The timing is daft in more ways than one. Just as expatriates and Turkish Cypriots organisations come together in an unprecedented humanitarian campaign, in support of removing the great injustices heaped on the TRNC and its people, the TRNC government appears to clobber the expatriate half of that campaign, including those already committed to a sales contract, who thought they had sold, and those who may wish to sell in future, who now find their range of potential buyers drastically reduced.
It hardly sends out a welcoming message, or makes the BRS sponsored coalition campaign likely to attract even more expatriates to the cause, now does it? Many will feel unwanted, whether that be the intention or not. I doubt it is, but many expatriates will see it that way.
There is one redeeming aspect to all this. The TRNC government have made clear that aspects of this policy will be open to "review". They should be. At best, the whole thing should be rethought and postponed. At the very least, the implementation of this new tax regime should cease to be immediate and delayed for 12 months. Even 6 months would be an improvement. Either would ensure that contracts of sale, already in force, have a chance of getting through the bureaucratic minefield to completion without unexpected extra costs destroying the sale. All sellers, be they Turkish Cypriot or expatriate, who are already selling to foreigners, surely deserve that consideration.
The TRNC government has every right to pursue any policy it wishes. This is their country, not ours. All I ask is that some consideration for an expatriate community that is actively engaged in support of their cause, be part of their deliberations. That's not unreasonable, now is it? I hope not.Source: Cyprus Today
President Ersin Tatar receives UK Parliamentary delegation 16 Feb 2023
There are two sovereign States on the island of Cyprus
“The existence of two sovereign States is a reality.”
President Ersin Tatar received a delegation of UK Parliamentarians who staged a visit to the TRNC, where the President called upon the UK Government to take a fresh approach in its unequal treatment of Turkish Cypriot People.
Visiting were MP's Paul Bristow, Stephen James Metcalfe and Brendan Clarke-Smith, and The Lord Rogan of Lower Iveagh and The Baroness Blackstone. Also in attendance were co-chairs of the Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus campaign, R. Williams and Çetin Ramadan and the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce (UK) President Muhammet Yasarata. Special Representative of the President, M. Ergün Olgun and Foreign Press Officer Kerem Haser were also present at the meeting.
President Tatar stated that “there is a story to tell in the island of Cyprus, which is the less heard Turkish Cypriot story, that is filled with sadness and suffering that needs to be heard and acknowledged by the rest of the world”. Stating that the Turkish Cypriot People are inherent sovereign equals and one of the co-owners of the island of Cyprus that had established the ‘Republic of Cyprus' partnership along with the Greek Cypriots in 1960, the President added: “The Republic lived for a total of three years, after the Turkish Cypriot co-partners were expulsed by force of arms from the state apparatus of the Republic, as part of the aspiration of uniting the island with Greece (ENOSIS) under the Akritas Plan. There were acts of genocide committed against the Turkish Cypriot People. Following a coup d'état in Athens, the ‘Hellenic Republic of Cyprus' was proclaimed.” The President added that Motherland Türkiye exercised its obligation as a Guarantor power and staged the Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974, after Britain rejected joint action.
The President said that there are two separate States in the island of Cyprus, and underlined that the Turkish Cypriot People, who have been governing themselves effectively as a State since 1963 after being ejected by the State apparatus by force of arms, have inherent sovereign equality rights.
Stating that the “UK knows the Cyprus issue more than any other country due to its historical links guarantor power status,” President Tatar referred to the statements of former UK Prime Minister Harold MacMillan and former Britain's Secretary of State for the Colonies Alan Lennox-Boyd, who stated publicly prior to Britain granting the island independence, that there are two sovereign Peoples with rights to self-determination in Cyprus – the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
Stating that the former late Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Rolandis had written that the Greek Cypriot Side has rejected at least 15 solution plans and ideas over a period of half-a-century, the President stated: “The most remembered rejection of the Greek Cypriot Side was the UN Comprehensive Settlement [Annan] Plan in 2004, where a separately held simultaneous referenda held on both sides ended with Greek Cypriots voting against the plan by 76 per cent. The Turkish Cypriots had accepted the plan by 64 per cent. The Greek Cypriot Side again rejected a federal based settlement in Crans-Montana in 2017. Negotiations for a federal based settlement has been exhausted despite all the different processes and attempts, because of the obsession and mentality of the Greek Cypriot Side that Cyprus is a Hellenic Island, which goes against the grain of trying to form an equality-based partnership.”
President Tatar added that it is important for the inherent sovereign equality of Turkish Cypriot People to be reaffirmed, in order to reach sustainable peace and stability. He added that the former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who was serving in office at the time the Annan Plan was held, has come out in favour of a two State settlement, which reaffirms the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot People. He added that a two State settlement will be a “win-win” for the two Sides in the island of Cyprus and the region.
President Tatar stated that he had conveyed to the Greek Cypriot leadership six cooperation proposals in July 2022 on hydrocarbons, sharing of fresh water, electricity interconnection, transition to green energy, demining the island from landmines and tackling irregular migration together. He said the Greek Cypriot Side has not responded favourably to these constructive and humane proposals.
Stephen James Metcalfe MP, speaking on behalf of the delegation, said they visited many places during their visit to the TRNC and spoke with different officials as well as expat groups in the country. He stated that they had also visited Ercan airport and said it was important for the unjust isolation imposed on the country which prevents direct trade and direct flights to be ended.
Click here for more info Source: kktcb.org
Parliament Speaker Zorlu Tore received British parliamentarians 15 Feb 2023
Zorlu Töre, Speaker of the Assembly of the Republic, received British Parliamentarians Paul Bristow, Stephen Metcalfe, Brendan Clarke Smith and Lord Rogan, and former Parliamentarian Baroness Blackstone, who had contacts in the TRNC.
According to the statement made by the Presidency of the Assembly, the General Secretary of the National Unity Party and the Famagusta Deputy Oguzhan Hasipoglu also took part.
Speaking at the reception, President Töre stated that they found it very important that the delegation also visited the TRNC, and that they expressed at every opportunity that the unilateral visits only to the South of the Island pushed the Greeks to a dead end.
Töre stated that the principle of equality that the delegation put forward during its visit was also a behavior in line with the founding principles of the Republic of Cyprus.
Reminding that there is a division in the island today due to the Greeks' desire to connect Cyprus to Greece and to create a Hellenic republic, Töre said that there is a division in the island due to their desire to exclude the Turkish Cypriots from the Republic of Cyprus and carry out attacks. He stated that there was no solution.
Töre, who said that their pain was great due to the earthquake disaster, noted that earthquakes are a common mourning for humanity.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, British Parliamentarian Stephen Metcalfe also noted that they understood the situation on the island much better through his visit, and said that they saw various injustices on the island despite the fact that there are two equal peoples on the island.
Expressing that the visit is also important in terms of seeing what role they can play in achieving a solution on the island, Metcalfe stated that they have information on how to find a solution for two communities living on an island with a long history.
Metcalfe stated that all the messages they received in their contacts were that there were two equal societies and a shared history on the island, and emphasized that they wanted to do the necessary work for a solution.
Expressing that they know the losses suffered by the Turkish Cypriot people, especially the Turkish Cypriot Volleyball team, and they share this pain due to the earthquake in Turkey, Metcalfe expressed that they see a great destruction as a small community connected to each other and conveyed his condolences.
Narin Yaliner Ataöz, the Director of the Parliament's Press, Foreign Relations and Protocol, and Irem Uygun Soysen, the Private Secretary, were also present at the reception.Source: Kibris Postasi
Prime Minister Ustel received the British Parliamentary delegation 14 Feb 2023
Prime minister Ünal Üstel received the British Parliamentary delegation consisting of MPs Paul Bristow, Stephen Metcalfe, Brendan Clarke and House of Lords members Baroness Blackstone and Lord Rogan.
At the meeting, the British Parliamentarians stated that the experiences, concerns and future vision of the Turkish Cypriot side in the Cyprus conflict are not well known, that they are in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to listen to them, that they have made contacts for this purpose and that seeing what is happening here with their own eyes will shed light on the decisions they will make from now on.
Prime minister Ünal Üstel said that he was very happy to host the British parliamentarians and members of the House of Lords at the Prime Ministry, that they could learn the realities of Cyprus only by taking into account the views of both sides, and that he hoped this visit would serve this purpose.
The Prime Minister demanded the end of the restrictions imposed by the UK on the citizens of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and the removal of the obstacles to the transportation, sports and trade of the Turkish Cypriots.
He said that the UK and the Turkish Cypriot people have deep relations based on the past, that there are close to 20 thousand British citizens in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, at the same time, over 300,000 Turkish Cypriots live in the UK, and this situation is of great importance for the further development of relations. .
Prime Minister Üstel stated that the negotiations have been carried out on the basis of federation for more than 50 years, that the Turkish Cypriots said yes to all the emerging plans, that the Greek Cypriots were always the ones who refused to share power and wealth on the basis of equality, and that, as of 2020, there were two more realistic solution models, as a result. He stated that we have moved to a solution model based on the state and that envisages institutional cooperation between the parties, and that the UK must now take initiatives to continue the talks on this new and realistic basis, and that the Turkish Cypriots have always fulfilled their responsibilities in order to live in an environment of peace and tranquility on the island. And he said he would bring it.
Referring to our opening in Maras, the Prime Minister stated that a hotel belonging to the British Ministry of Defense has been identified in Maras, and that the British Government can apply to our Immovable Property Commission (TMK) regarding this immovable property and claim for return, exchange or compensation for the property. He also said that they can apply to the TMK regarding the titled immovables in Maras.
At the end of the meeting, the British Parliamentarians described the meeting as useful and informative and stated that they would discuss the important details shared with them on the relevant platforms.Source: Kibris Postasi
North Cyprus attempts to woo Charles with invite to abandoned 7-star hotel 'Firm owns' 28 Jan 2023
Ersin Tatar, the President of Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), was snubbed over Queen Elizabeth II's funeral last year.
King Charles has been invited to visit the world's first-ever seven-star hotel - understood to be owned by the Royal Family - by the President of Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) as he tries to break the deadlock on the island of Cyprus. The invitation to King Charles has come just ahead of the Presidential elections in the Republic of Cyprus in the Greek Cypriot southern part of the island on February 5 with the future reunification with the TRNC at the top of the agenda.
President Tatar believes that reunification is now “absolutely impossible” and he wants the winner of the election in the south and the rest of the world led by Britain to recognise the sovereignty of his country as part of “a two state solution” to end the 60-year crisis.
He has accused the UK of failing to take advantage of Brexit freedoms to broker "a fair solution".
President Tatar, who went to Jesus College at Cambridge University and worked in Britain, has “a deep love” for the UK.
Speaking of his hurt over the lack of an invite to the Queen's funeral, he pointed out that the snub was not just for himself and the TRNC but also for around 300,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the UK and hundreds of thousands more who were the Queen's subjects.
He said: “I talked to the High Commissioner and when he went to find out what was going on he told me I was not invited.
“I was disappointed. A Greek Cypriot cannot possibly represent me and the Turkish Cypriots”.
But he suggested that the new King could visit the world's first seven-star hotel, which he believes may still be the property of the Royal family.
Speaking of his government's efforts to bring life back to the ghost town of Maras, he noted: “The Queen had the hotel there belonging to the Royal family. So maybe they can come and have it returned back to the King.
“King Charles can come here too if he wishes.”
The significance of an official Royal visit would be that the T.R.N.C. had been formally recognised and could enter the Commonwealth as a separate member.
The invitation centres on the mysterious Golden Sands Hotel, which stands in part of the once fashionable resort town of Maras in the TRNC-controlled area on the divided island.
Since the Turkish army moved into North Cyprus to protect Turkish Cypriots in 1974, Maras has been left abandoned as a ghost town, a bargaining chip in negotiations to find a resolution on the island.
This included the Golden Sands which was the world's first seven-star hotel and had five years of bookings when it opened in 1974 before being forced to shut with the rest of the town just three months after guests first arrived.
The resort also included a seafront home of the Hollywood legend Sophia Loren and was a favourite holiday destination of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, and Brigitte Bardot.
Among the empty properties in what has been described as “a monument to diplomatic failure” are 45 hotels, 3,000 commercial properties, 60 apartment hotels, 21 banks, 25 museums, 20 theatres and museums, and 99 entertainment venues.
But after decades of failed talks, President Tatar's government last year decided to open up the town to both Turkish and Greek Cypriots to visit and has given individual owners, mostly Greek Cypriots, the opportunity to return to reclaim their properties.Source: Daily Express - David Maddox - Political Editor
Cyprus needs two-state solution, claims head of Turkish-occupied north 28 Jan 2023
Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus will become ever more dependent on Turkey, and the hydrocarbon reserves surrounding Cyprus could be left unexploited, unless a solution to the 50-year dispute over the partitioned island is reached soon, Ersin Tatar, the president of the unrecognised “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, has said.
Speaking from his presidential palace in the divided city of Nicosia, right by the UN-policed green line with Greek Cyprus, Tatar is trying to find ways to persuade others to “think out[side] the box” and join him in advocating for a two-state solution for the island.
Often seen as a frozen conflict in which neither set of politicians can shed their grievances or memories, the fate of the island, divided since a 1974 Turkish invasion to protect Turks on the island from the Greek military junta, has fallen down diplomats' priority lists.
Tatar, a rightwing nationalist elected in 2020 with the direct support of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claims to be trying to change that. He has broken from previous Turkish Cypriot policy by proposing a two-state solution in which the two sides of the island would remain permanently divided with equal sovereign status.
Turkish Cypriot leader: ‘The only way forward is a two-state solution'
He described the 50-year effort to reunify the island through a bizonal federation as “a waste of time” since Greek Cypriots in the recognised Republic of Cyprus had no incentive from inside the EU to share the island fairly.
The last UN-mediated talks in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, for which there had been high hopes, collapsed in 2017, and subsequent informal UN talks in Geneva have also foundered.
Tatar said: “Things have got worse. The Greeks refuse to share power. They think they are masters of this island and that it is a Greek Hellenic Island. If we are to resume formal negotiations, we have to have our sovereign equality and status as an independent state recognised. There are two states and two people on the island. We have our own culture and ambitions. Reversing the clock back to reunification of the island is absolutely impossible.”
Tatar's critics say his two-state plan is a nonstarter and instead of giving Turkish Cypriots greater sovereignty, his strategy risks turning the isolated north of Cyprus in effect into an economic colony of Ankara, something that will eventually threaten the north's prized secular status.
Tatar admitted that if the international community did not engage with his plan and lift the embargo on the north to open up, the north would be forced to integrate even more closely with Ankara. “Obviously if there is no agreement, in the long run we will have more and more Turkish influence on the island because we will over time become more and more dependent on Turkey,” he said. His “republic” already receives at least €270m a year from Ankara.
The fear of a conservative Islamification is real. Protests have been continuing on the island over the state-appointed grand mufti, Ahmet Ünsal, recently saying women had a duty to answer their husband's invitation to go to bed to procreate. Yet at the same time, Turks and Russians pour into the north to gamble, albeit in vast subterranean and money-spinning all-night casinos operating in the basements of luxury hotels.
Tatar sees Turkey as the motherland. “Whenever we have been kicked around or suffered, Turkey always came to save us,” he said. “Turkey sacrificed her own children for our security. We feel part of the Turkish race. In 1974, the Turkish army came as a protectorate, and now we, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have overlapping interests.”
Tatar's experienced advisers accept it is legitimate to ask how, and with what levers, they can put pressure on the Greek Cypriots, or the international community, to negotiate on the premise of a two-state solution, something that has been widely rejected, including by the recently resurgent Turkish Cypriot opposition parties.
The first lever is largely unspoken. Cyprus remains a geopolitical nerve centre. If the west needs to draw Turkey closer to its alliance and away from Russia, recognition of the Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus would be a good place to start.
Long-running disputes over hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean also provide Tatar with a lever. Tatar said: “Any deals made by Greek Cypriots with big petrol companies are absolutely illegal since they should have our consent as the co-founders of Cyprus.
“If there is conflict, then exploitation of these billions of dollars' worth of natural resources obviously comes with risks. We have our own maps. I have my own people, my own territory, my own coastline and my own right to make an agreement with other countries, and I have done this already with Turkey.”
He added with a hint of menace: “Where this is a source of conflict over billions of dollars of natural resources, it can lead in the future to unpleasant events.”
His aides said the value of the hydrocarbons in the east Mediterranean was time-limited, and if the status of Cyprus was deadlocked, the hydrocarbons risked being left untapped as governments moved on to greener technology such as solar.
“With global warming there is a potential risk that a day will come when we cannot use these resources,'' Tatar said.
Tatar insisted there were signs that governments were willing to look at the Cyprus issue anew. But so far he has failed to persuade the British, one of three guarantors for the island. He said he was very disappointed that the UK, post-Brexit with its hands untied, had not even agreed to direct flights to northern Turkey, let alone recognition.
Educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, he said wistfully that he was not even given an invitation to Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, even though he said he was prepared to take his country if recognised into the Commonwealth.Source: The Guardian - Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
BRS LOBBYING CAMPAIGN 22 Jan 2023
Back in the summer of 2022, Stephen Day wrote an article in Cyprus Today titled ‘Rocking the F.O. Boat' inviting the BRS to take forward a lobbying campaign targeted at the UK government to end the isolation of the TRNC.
As you may or may not have seen, Stephen Day's article in the Cyprus Today newspaper dated 21/1/23 (see below) made reference to the British High Commission and the Commissioner's vision (or lack of) on the Cyprus issue. The BRS lobby team would like to make our members aware that a letter was delivered to his Excellency Mr Irfan Saddiq OBE by hand by our Chairman Mr Julian Mawdesley at Shakespeare House, Nicosia on 11/11/22 inviting him to meet with us and to discuss ways in which we can work together on all matters relating to the lobbying initiative. We are yet to receive a response!
This is just one example of why we feel our initial letter writing campaign is so important to keep promoting and to keep encouraging people to send their letters as with large numbers we are able to put more pressure on appropriate authorities to listen to us.
A number of letters sent to conservative MPs are being forwarded to the Foreign Office for a reply and in particular to the current Minister for Europe, who in turn are providing responses.
Our message to those who are not listening is simple: ‘Issues do not disappear by burying your head in the sand!'
Please go to our website to send your letters if you have not already done so.
Cyprus Today 422 - Published originally by Cyprus Today 21 January 2023
Day by Day column: Stephen Day:
In 1965 The Four Tops released their hit single "The Same Old Song". In 2023 it is still being played regularly. That's fine, but the last thing the British High Commissioner should be doing is singing the same old Foreign Office (FCO) Cyprus song. That flopped decades ago, never remotely troubling the higher echelons of the diplomatic success charts. For nearly 50 years, various British High Commissioners have played the role of lead singer, repeating the same tired, repetitive and ultimately failed message, with not an original thought in sight.
Step forward the latest British High Commission incumbent, namely Mr Irfan Siddiq OBE. He has just given us his latest thoughts on the Cyprus issue (no yawning at the back, now). If you were looking for that illusive, original, FCO thought, forget it chum. Here we go again....
Mr. Siddiq says the "two states" option is a "none starter for any serious negotiations". I see. So that's it, is it? The FACT two states actually and effectively exist is therefore to be ignored, for the umpteenth time. Two states are the REALITY your Excellency. Ignore reality and you end up with unrealistic outcomes - like no result at all. Then the High Commission wonder why 50 years of unchanging UN goals results in 50 years of repetitive failure! It beggars belief! My reader can accuse who he wants of "intransigence" during the endless efforts to reunite the island, but isn't there a great deal of "intransigence" on the part of the British FCO? Stuck in the rut of repeated failure, as they are, and blindly heading for another?
The High Commissioner says that "renewed effort on the settlement of the Cyprus issue is essential". Yes, and it has been for half a century. Result? No settlement. Does Mr Siddiq accept that the Greek Cypriots (GC's) have rejected UN sponsored efforts on a regular basis, especially when they voted NO to the UN's Annan Plan and the Turkish Cypriots (TC's) voted YES? Can he explain why the EU went on to reward the GC's intransigence with membership of their Union and condemned the TC's to continued isolation? Can he explain why the UK, as a Cyprus guarantor of the rights of BOTH Cyprus communities, did not use their then power of EU veto to block this injustice?
Can he explain why after the TC's voted for the Annan Plan, promises to lift the embargoes if they did so, were quietly forgotten? Doesn't he realise that this EU elevation of GC diplomatic legitimacy beyond anything the TC's can hope for, finally ended all hope of Cyprus reunification? Despite all this, Mr Siddiq believes "a better relationship with the EU" is required. Pardon? To put it bluntly, the EU stuffed the TC's and the GC's couldn't have a better relationship with Brussels, they are members of it!
His Excellency continues - "a new commitment to political equality" is required. Too right. Unfortunately the main source of "inequality" between the two peoples is the fact that UK, UN and EU all grant recognition to the GC's regime and isolate the TC's. "Equality" can be achieved by recognising both states or NOT recognising both.
It's one or the other. Not adopting either option is the main cause of 50 years of UN talks failure. So, High Commissioner, how's about the FCO making that "new commitment to political equality"? It could hardly produce more "failure" than we have now, could it?
His Excellency talks of the two sides in this "conflict". What conflict? The last conflict on this island was caused entirely by the Greek military dictatorship in Athens and the Greek Cypriot EOKA B in 1974. They overthrew the 1960 power sharing constitution (and consequently the Republic of Cyprus) and the UK, as a supposed "guarantor" of that constitution, did absolutely nothing about it. Peace reigns in Cyprus, there is no "conflict", thanks to the LEGAL intervention of the Turkish Army as a second guarantor power, which saved the TC's from genocide and enforced Union with Greece. Does memory fail the collective FCO mind?
Greek Cypriot President Anastasiades has recently met King Charles III to "brief" him on the "latest developments in Cyprus" and (wait for it) "Turkey's latest provocations in the eastern Med". A very balanced approach, eh? When will President Tatar be meeting King Charles, even as the ELECTED leader of the Turkish Cypriot community? He won't be, will he? Yet more absence of "equality". How's about rectifying that as well, High Commissioner?
His latest statement also notes "the more time passes without a [Cyprus] deal, the more difficult it becomes". Well I never. It's not even "difficult" High Commissioner. After 50 years of the "same old FCO song" it's damned near impossible. How much longer must the TC's spend in isolation? Another 50 years?
It is not just the Turkish Cypriots who suffer from diplomatic isolation, trade embargoes and no direct flights. It is thousands of British passport holding expatriates who live in TRNC, others who live in UK but have property here and hundreds of thousands of British Turkish Cypriots living in UK. Doesn't the High Commission have some responsibility towards their interests?
The talks are over. They as dead as the proverbial Dodo! As deceased as Monty Python's parrot. It is time for a change. A time to end one of the greatest crimes ever visited on a single people by the international community. A time for the UK to act like a guarantor of BOTH Cyprus communities and end the great injustice that Turkish Cypriots have laboured under for far too long. I pray for the day.
I have asked my Editor to forward this article to the High Commissioner as a matter of courtesy and a long overdue need for a FCO response to this never ending injustice.
Hope springs eternal, just like the "talks", eh?Source: Cyprus Today