The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce is lending its support to a new petition in the UK, sponsored by a British conservative MP, who is pushing for direct flights to the north one year after the Pegasus restrictions.
The campaign was launched on Sunday during the 2nd Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival in Enfield, with an ultimate target of 100,000 signatures according to media reports.
British Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith is sponsoring the petition and has already filed a motion with the British parliament asking for direct flights.
On Sunday, the Chamber took part in the festival with TCCC head Turgay Deniz and fellow board member Serhan Kombos attending the festivities and signing the petition.
Deniz, who also signed a protocol between TCCC and London’s Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, said it was time to revive relations with Turkish Cypriots in the UK.
The TCCC head also pointed out that Turkish Cypriots voted ‘yes’ in the 2004 reunification referendum. But promises made to them by the international community, which would have allowed Turkish Cypriots to have a more stable economy, were not being kept, he added.
Pegasus restrictions behind motion
The move comes following public outcry last summer, when UK security restrictions were imposed on Pegasus airlines, which flies between the UK and Ercan airport (Tymbou) in the north.
The restrictions forced passengers on flights to and from Ercan, an airport in north Nicosia which is not recognised, to undergo additional security checks in Turkey. This meant everyone would have to exit the plane at a Turkish airport and go through boarding again, putting an end to the practice of simply “touching down” and continuing on with the flight.
British officials last year cited security threats saying the added inconvenience was necessary for the protection of all passengers.
But Turkish Cypriot activists and media bloggers, who saw the move as political, began calling on British supporters to write letters to their local MPs.
According to media blogging sites, constituents received many responses from both conservative and labour parties, among them Iain Duncan Smith. Cypriot-origin MP Bambos Charalambous also reportedly wrote back to a constituent in Enfield.