“Through no fault of their own, the people of northern Cyprus have suffered and continue to suffer exclusion from the international community and embargoes on their trade ”, Lord Sharkey, addressing the Queen’s Speech debate said on Wednesday.
Declaring an interest as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, he went on to say that Cyprus had been divided for over 50 years and many attempts at reunification had failed. This had led to the impoverishment of north Cyprus.
The two sides appear to be further apart than ever. The south remains prosperous, while the north becomes poorer, under embargo, and isolated. In the south, GDP per head is around $30,000. In the north, it is around $15,000. The north’s economy depends largely on subsidies from Turkey. The recent steep decline in the value of the Turkish lira has had a disastrous effect on the economy in the north. Inflation in Turkey now stands at 70%, with the prospect of further damaging falls in the value of the lira and the value of the subsidies to northern Cyprus”, he said.
Lord Sharkey went on to say that the Greek Cypriots have proposed variations on the bizonal, bicommunal federation model. The Turkish Cypriots now reject this model entirely and propose a two-state solution. Indeed. He noted that President Ersin Tatar had been elected on this very platform.
Restore Touchdown Only Flights To the UK
Regarding the economy and the cost and travel times of flights from Ercan Airport to the UK, Lord Sharkey said:
“In the meantime, we could help the economically vital tourism from the UK to the north by addressing a problem at Ercan Airport. We could remove the requirement that all passengers traveling from the UK to Ercan in northern Cyprus must deplane with all their baggage to undergo security checks in Turkey. The UK imposed that restriction [in 2017 citing security concerns]; we could lift it ourselves if we chose. I know from conversations with President Tatar that his Administration would comply with any conditions that HMG might have. This would not solve the Cyprus problem, of course, but it would bring some economic relief to the north and demonstrate our willingness to provide practical help”.