Tatar calls on UK voters to back IDS

  Jul 1, 2024 11:04 am Ibrar Younas 1972

Tatar calls on UK voters to back IDS
This campaign image was released in Turkish and English highlighting Sir Iain Ducan Smith's support for direct flights

By ELTAN HALİL

 

PRESIDENT Ersin Tatar has called on Turkish Cypriot voters in the UK to support former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith in the upcoming general election.

The re-election of Sir Iain on Thursday, July 4, will be a “significant step towards ending the isolation of Turkish Cypriots” Tatar said.

Sir Iain, the British Work and Pensions Secretary from 2010 to 2016, is seeking re-election in the north-east London constituency of Chingford and Woodfood Green, where he has been an MP since 1992.

The votes of British citizens of Turkish Cypriot ethnicity in the constituency could be vital for Sir Iain.

He has made repeated demands over the years for direct flights between the UK and North Cyprus, calls that he repeated this week.

“The current status quo in Cyprus causes serious difficulties for Turkish Cypriots, many of whom are my constituents here in Chingford and Woodford Green,” he said.

“As a result, Northern Cyprus faces international isolation, including restrictions on direct flights from other countries.

“That is why I have been campaigning for direct flights to Northern Cyprus for some time now. Ercan Airport . . . currently serves as the primary hub for Northern Cyprus. Whilst the South benefits from direct flights, the North can only offer flights with one to two stops, forcing travellers to make inconvenient stopovers.

“My call for direct flights is in support of my constituents of Turkish Cypriot descent who need to regularly visit their properties and support elderly relatives in Northern Cyprus.

“Despite endless concerns raised by me and a group of parliamentarians, the UK Government’s position on direct flights remains unchanged. There are still no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus.

“I have raised this issue on a number of occasions with the Government on behalf of my Turkish Cypriot constituents.

“The Foreign Office has explained that as Ercan airport is not recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as an international airport, the UK Government is unable to negotiate an Air Services Agreement with the administration in Northern Cyprus, which prevents direct flights from resuming.

“As I understand it, on the Transport Secretary’s recommendation, a UK security company inspected Ercan airport and recommendations were made in order that the airport reach UK safety standards.

“I am disappointed that the Republic of Cyprus did not allow further inspection of the airport to assess whether Ercan Airport meets the required security standard. 

“It is high time that we see an end to such an unfair and restrictive travel ban. If elected once again as the Member of Parliament for Chingford and Woodford Green, I will continue to call on the Government to allow direct flights between the United Kingdom and the North of Cyprus and ensure that they engage directly with the TRNC to prevent further Turkish Cypriot isolation from the international community.”

 

‘FRIEND AND ADVOCATE’

 

In a statement, President Ersin Tatar said: “I greatly appreciate Iain Duncan Smith’s unwavering call for direct flights to North Cyprus. The international isolation faced by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus negatively impacts our people’s daily lives and economic development.

“[Sir Iain’s] determination and continuous struggle on this issue demonstrate his sincerity in defending the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

“The re-election of Iain Duncan Smith . . . will be a significant step towards ending the isolation of Turkish Cypriots and achieving a more just right to travel.

“The establishment of direct flights is not only important for travel convenience but also for strengthening our economic and social ties.

“Iain Duncan Smith has always been a friend and advocate of the Turkish Cypriot community. I fully support him in this fight and sincerely hope that our Turkish Cypriot voters in the UK will also support Duncan Smith.

“By working together, I believe we can ensure that Turkish Cypriots achieve the position they deserve on the international stage and take steps towards a more just world order.”

Support also came from Muhammet Yaşarata, chair of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce in the UK, who said: “Iain Duncan Smith is a Member of Parliament who amplifies the voice of the Turkish Cypriot community and is sensitive to their needs.

“I wholeheartedly support his campaign for direct flights to North Cyprus. His commitment to this cause is crucial for Turkish Cypriots to achieve the status they deserve on the international stage.

“Turkish Cypriots have been living under isolation for many years, adversely affecting their economic and social lives.

“The provision of direct flights will enable Turkish Cypriots to connect with the world more easily and quickly, significantly contributing to economic development.

“From a business perspective, direct flights offer significant advantages. Businesspeople and entrepreneurs in North Cyprus will be able to connect more easily with international markets, increase their business volume, and create new opportunities. Therefore, it is our duty to support Iain Duncan Smith in this struggle.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Kenan Nafi, chair of the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations in the UK, who said: “We support Iain Duncan Smith’s efforts to establish direct flights to North Cyprus. . . [His] persistence and dedication in this matter are crucial for ensuring that the Turkish Cypriot community receives the support it deserves.”

In the 2019 general election Sir Iain hung on to his seat in a close race against then Labour Party candidate Faiza Shaheen – who is married to British Turkish Cypriot actor Akın Gazi – winning by just 1,262 votes.

Shaheen had also been Labour’s candidate for this year’s election, but was deselected over historical tweets.

However she is still running in the race as an independent candidate, meaning that Labour’s vote could be split in the Chingford and Woodfood Green constituency, indirectly aiding Sir Iain’s re-election campaign.

 

 

A version of this article originally appeared in the print version of Cyprus Today on June 29



Comments