President wants more people from UK to settle in North Cyprus
Taken from this week's issue
By ELTAN HALİL
The Cambridge University graduate, who spent 17 years in the UK, praised the role British expats play in promoting the TRNC and supporting its economy, in a wide-ranging interview.
“I want more people from [the UK] to settle here,” he said. “My message [is that] I am a very good friend of the British, I have a lot of good friends. I do my best, not only as President, but as the Prime Minister and before as a minister.
“I have always had good contact with the [British] people. I get together with British people as much as I can, in social activities, or in other affairs.
“I want to help them, I want to address [their problems], whatever I can do to help them feel at home.”
Mr Tatar said he “values” the presence of the British expats in North Cyprus. “I value their culture, I value their contribution to our economy, I value their heritage, I value their links to the UK. . . They all have MPs, who are very near to them, therefore they should do their best – I’m sure they are anyway – to promote the Turkish Cypriot affairs in the United Kingdom, through their friends, through their MPs, through their [contacts] in the business community and other people who are active in UK politics.”
Asked if enough was being done to make British expats feel welcome in the TRNC, Mr Tatar replied: “You can always do more. I’m here to listen. My phone is . . .always switched on. I am open to communication.”
Referring to last month’s visit to Cyprus by British Foreign Secretary and fellow Cambridge graduate Dominic Raab, Mr Tatar described him as a “very nice” man.
“[We] had a pleasant talk,” the President said. “It was very nice for to him to visit us. . . . His message was ‘we want an agreement, so that the Turkish Cypriots can get on with their lives’, without all these embargoes, isolations, and other things associated with our development.
“Obviously we had some personal conversations about [the UK], about Europe, about Cyprus, about the Turkish people, about the [British] people in general, but obviously the official line is different to personal contacts.
“However, with Dominic Raab I had a very pleasant chat because I spent some 17 years in England, so we had a lot of things to discuss, including Cambridge.”
Mr Tatar called on the UK to be more “generous” to the Turkish Cypriots in terms of trade now that it has left the European Union.
“We can trade with the UK because we have more than 300,000 people of Turkish Cypriot origin living in [the UK],” he said.
“Therefore, we can have a lot of opportunity for trade, including hellim [cheese], Cyprus potatoes and other products that the Turkish Cypriots produce.
“However, because of these European and Greek Cypriot obstacles we are not able to directly trade with the United Kingdom.
“Now that they’re out of the EU, maybe we can trade directly. For this to happen they will have to review some of the legislation.”
The President also expressed his hopes for direct flights, or at least a return to passengers being allowed to wait on the plane in Turkey on UK-bound and in-bound flights, once the new Ercan airport terminal is opened.
“I wish we could have direct flights [from the UK],” he said. “But how we achieve that, that’s obviously something to be discussed with our legal experts.
“When the new [Ercan] airport is open, [it will have] all the security arrangements that would make life easier for us to call for direct flights, or maybe, in the first instance, for aeroplanes to be able to continue [their journey by] touching down in Turkey and taking off again.
“Disembarkation shouldn’t happen because it creates extra costs and time.”
The British authorities are aware of the issues, Mr Tatar said, and he believes “they will be able to help us, for the sake of not only Turkish Cypriots [in North Cyprus], but also for the more than half a million Turkish [and Turkish Cypriot] people who have British passports, and the expats living here”.
“So a good government in the United Kingdom should listen to the voices of all these people who are mainly British,” he said.
“They might be of Turkish Cypriot origin, but they are British. And in law, they’re as British as [the British]. . . The United Kingdom government should show further sensitivity, now that they are out of Europe, to correct this [flights] anomaly . . . which is against human rights.”