President Ersin Tatar speaks to the British Residents’ Society officials following the visit of UK Secretary of State Dominic Raab
President Ersin Tatar stated that he values expats living in the TRNC because he appreciates their love and support in this country, and has emphasised that a fresh approach can be taken in relation to direct trade and travel between the TRNC and the UK, following the conclusion of the Brexit transition process on January 1, 2021.
The President made the remarks during a virtual meeting which was hosted by the Presidency on Friday evening, with British Residents’ Society (BRS) Chairman Peter Wilkins, Deputy Chairman Mike Diplock and Presidential Foreign Press officer Kerem Haser as the participants.
“I do not see our expat residents as being any different to the citizens of this country, because I know how passionately they love and support the TRNC,” President Tatar said.
The President said that during the discussions with Mr Raab, he had made specific references to the 10,000-plus expats living in the TRNC – although he said the number of British subjects was much higher – as well as the 300,000-plus Turkish Cypriots living in the UK, when explaining the inhumane isolation and its negative impacts on the country.
He said he wanted to exchange views with BRS officials following his “excellent meeting” with Mr Raab “which was held in a sincere and cordial atmosphere.”
President Tatar said that he had asked Mr Raab to look into the prospect of the UK forwarding Turkish Cypriots their share of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, so that it could be used for the benefit of expats living in the TRNC. He said Mr Raab had reciprocated by stating that he would give instructions to the relevant authorities to look into the matter.
The President added: “Turkish Cypriots are also endeavouring to acquire vaccines. Motherland Turkey has so far given the TRNC a total of 40,000 dosages of the vaccine, which means that a total of 20,000 people will be inoculated as there is a requirement for each person to have two shots. The EU has also sent us some vaccine dosages which are not enough as we actually need at least 500,000 dosages.”
Indicating that he appreciates the concerns of the BRS officials over the ‘lack of clarity’ relating to a vaccination programme, the President stated that this is due to the fact that “we still have not had enough vaccines dosages imported to the TRNC. We are doing everything we can to speed up the process and are exploring all avenues to get more vaccine dosages to the country, to benefit all residents.”
Cyprus Issue and the Turkish Cypriot stance
Stating that it was the first time Mr Raab has visited Cyprus, the President said that he visited both sides of the island, as a five-plus-UN informal meeting is being planned to be held in March that would be attended by the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides and the three guarantor states – Turkey, Greece and the UK. Mr Tatar stated that he intends to put forward a new vision “for peace and stability for a sustainable settlement on the island that is based on sovereign equality and the existence of two States that coexist side-by-side which are in cooperation with each other”.
He said he had shown photographs of North Cyprus to Mr Raab showing the substantial investments and developments and asked: “How can all of this be undone? The TRNC is as sovereign as the State in the South, because we have all the attributes of a State, from having our elections and laws, to having our own territory, population and state organs.”
President Tatar said he explained to Mr Raab that countless negotiations to achieve a settlement based on a federal model failed time after time over half-a-century, “because of the hegemonic mentality of the Greek Cypriot side in not wanting to share power and the natural resources of the island with the Turkish Cypriots – who are in fact a sovereign people and co-owners with a right to self-determination” and reiterated that “we will insist on the survival of our State.”
Travel and trade with the UK post Brexit
President Tatar stated that they had also discussed the completion of Brexit during the meeting. “I stated my conviction that the UK can take a fresh approach to direct trade and direct flights with the TRNC because it is not bound by the rules of the EU,” he said.
The disembarkation issue for passengers travelling from Ercan airport to the UK during their touch down in Turkey was also discussed between the two officials which President Tatar said was a priority. President Tatar said that he had asked for the British official to look into how this could be reversed back to the old system where passengers could remain in the aircraft without having to undergo a re-screening procedure. Mr Tatar said he had advised Mr Raab that they have reports which showed that Ercan airport complied with international standards, and is suitable like any other airport. He said Mr Raab promised to look into this issue.