Mar 29, 2021 9:54 am Ibrar Younas 1617


Taken from this week's issue

BRITISH non-resident property owners and tenants wanting to return to the TRNC could be allowed to do so by providing proof of their status “electronically” rather than with original documents, it was suggested this week.

The option was one of the “formulas” discussed between the British Residents Society and the government in a bid to break the current predicament.

Only certain groups of people, such as TRNC citizens and residents, are currently allowed to travel from the UK to North Cyprus due to the emergence of coronavirus variants.

Earlier this month the Public Works and Transport Ministry extended the list via a “Notam” (notice to airmen) to include non-resident foreign national property owners and tenants, but only if they have original documents, such as title deeds or rental agreements, with them when boarding the plane, as previously reported in Cyprus Today.

Many pointed out the impracticalities of the decision, stating that they keep such documents safely at their properties in the TRNC.

British Residents Society (BRS) officials met with Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu and Public Works and Transport Ministry officials this week in an effort to resolve the issue.

Speaking to Cyprus Today, BRS chairman Peter Wilkins said: “We had productive meetings and we were able to convey the difficulties being faced by non-resident expats. . . We explained . . . the hardship this [Notam] is causing, as many people do not carry their original documents around with them, and would have left them in a safe place in their property in the TRNC.

“Minister Ertuğruloğlu agreed to look into the feasibility of having some sort of verification procedure, where a traveller’s eligibility to return to the TRNC could be checked electronically, rather than having to produce documentation,” he said.

Mr Wilkins said that another option being discussed is allowing non-residents to travel to the TRNC and then provide, in person, the original documents to the authorities within three days of coming out of quarantine. 

Discussions were also held on the difficulties faced by people arriving into South Cyprus from the UK and then crossing into the North via checkpoints at the British Sovereign Base Areas.

“However, we have been told that the person cannot then use the same checkpoint to cross back into the South,” Mr Wilkins said. “They would need to use a . . . checkpoint like Metehan. 

“We are still trying to determine how the rules will be implemented from May 1. .  when flights to South Cyprus are planned to be allowed.” The BRS has made a request for a meeting with the British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie. 

Mr Wilkins also asked Mr Ertuğruloğlu for British property owners in the TRNC to be given the right to vote in local elections.

“Mr Ertuğruloğlu has expressed his support for voting rights to be afforded to residents who own property in the country for local elections only. This will be taken up within the government,” Mr Wilkins said. 

He also asked Mr Ertuğruloğlu for his support in arranging a question and answer session for BRS members with government officials, similar to one that took place at Acapulco Hotel in 2018.