6K sign direct flights petition
By KEREM HASAN
Hasan and Erol Özkoç, brothers from London, started the week-old petition on the Par- liament website to lobby British MPs on the “inhumane” aspect of not having direct flights.
The petition called on the British Government to “support direct flights to Northern Cyprus. The UK has around 300,000 residents of Turkish Cypriot heritage. Direct flights would create more free flow travel and ease access for the disabled and vulnerable . . . the EU imposed embargo imposed in 1994 should be lifted,” it states.
Mr Özkoç [Hasan], speaking to Cyprus Today, said they wanted to call on the expatriate and foreign residents in Northern Cyprus to back the campaign to reach 10,000 signatures, in order to raise awareness of the hardships caused because of the lack of direct flights between the UK and North Cyprus.
“The UK is leaving the EU in January. We were discussing the inhumane issue and the question cropped up as to why British nationals still cannot fly direct to Northern Cyprus, even after Brexit.
“Everybody wants a change and ordinary people – Turkish Cypriot and expatriates alike -- are frustrated at this continuing discriminatory treatment. We know that formulas can be found to have direct flights and politics should not be included.”
Mr Özkoç added that the Covid-19 pandemic had “further justified the need” to have direct flights – to eliminate the need for transit and “a visit to another airport adding further hours to the journey time” and “making people further susceptible to contracting the virus”.
“Where is the British transport secretary to protect its own citizens?” he said.
Referring to the legal case of Cyprus Turkish Airlines (CTA) – where the British Court of Appeal rejected an appeal to lift the ban on direct flights from Britain in 2010, after the court had judged that it would “go against Britain’s duty to respect the rights of the Republic of Cyprus”.
The airline and its UK travel company, CTA Holidays, had said that the ban unfairly restricted Turkish Cypriots from travelling and doing business around the world.
The three appeal court judges had upheld an earlier ruling, saying that granting permits would contravene the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.
Mr Ökoç said that the issue of direct flights should not be seen as a political matter but merely a human rights issue and he added: “This was an example of bad case law because it ignores the historical developments in Cyprus”.
“We will push for this matter to be taken up in Parliament, for different formulas and avenues to be considered because nothing so inhumane can be set in stone.
“We call upon all expatriates and foreign residents to sign our petition, to raise awareness on this injustice and for Britain to stop making excuses and look into different formulas to find a way of initiating direct flights post Brexit”.
The petition can be found at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/320878?fbclid=IwAR0CeQAVfRgmGwq8lQOLvwVNNR9hOQauNhEgepH2D1J64M4d4BlLqpV8a_k