‘No plans’ for direct flights to Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, says UK Minister for Europe

The UK Government ‘has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus’, Minister for Europe Leo Docherty said in response to a written parliamentary question. Reiterating London’s position on the matter, Docherty added that ‘in accordance with the rest of the international community, with the sole exception of Turkey, the UK does not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ as an independent state.’ He noted that the UK recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the sovereign authority for the island of Cyprus and that as a result, the UK Government cannot negotiate an Air Services Agreement with the administration in the north of Cyprus. He was responding to the Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith’s question about any discussions held with other countries on authorising direct flights to the occupied part of Cyprus. The same MP also enquired as to the steps taken to support British citizens who live in Turkish occupied Cyprus, in the context of the ‘prohibition of direct flights between the UK and the North of Cyprus.’ In response, Minister for Transport Jesse Norman made clear that under the Chicago Convention, only the Republic of Cyprus may designate the occupied airfield of Tymbou (Ercan) as an international customs airport and grant permission for flights to operate from within its territory. As the Republic has not done that, it means that no direct air services between the occupied north of Cyprus and the UK can take place. ‘Ultimately, a just and lasting settlement on the island is the best chance of resolving these complex issues. The UK’s commitment to helping all parties to achieve this remains unwavering,’ added Norman. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency