Ersin Tatar, the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), has delivered a heartfelt message in English to the Turkish Cypriot nation ahead of tonight’s Mevlit in London to commemorate the 35 Turkish Cypriots who have died after contracting coronavirus.
The Turkish Cypriot leader started his message by stating:
“I address you not just as the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but also as a father, son, husband, neighbour, and friend.”
The Prime Minister specifically addressed the UK diaspora, who have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, highlighting the traumatic experience of the victims:
“My heart aches for those who are forced to endure this deadly disease alone, their relatives unable to visit and comfort them in their final days and hours due to fears of contagion,” adding, “The death of any loved one is hard, but to endure it under these conditions is beyond comprehension.”
Mr Tatar says he will be among those watching tonight’s televised Mevlit (prayer night) in London and praying for these “dearly departed souls” and “all the other victims of this terrible virus”.
TRNC PM Ersin Tatar highlights the trauma of UK Turkish Cypriots in this 3-minute clip in English about the impact of the coronavirus
“My heart aches for those who are forced to endure this deadly disease alone”
PM Tatar also paid tributes to front line workers, such as doctors and nurses, the emergency services, and care workers, in the TRNC and abroad, describing them as “heroes” for risking “their personal safety to deliver essential services to society”.
He called on everyone to be “a good neighbour and a good citizen”, by remaining at home, and looking out for the elderly and vulnerable in the community, urging people to call relatives and friends “every day”, so “they know you care for and love them, for tomorrow is not promised to any of us”.
He ended his address by praying for Allah to “watch over us all” and “give strength and patience to all who are suffering”, and that, “Better days, I hope, will come.”
The 3-minute address was also shared in text form on the Prime Minister’s personal Facebook page, generating hundreds of likes and shares.
UK-based Ozel Osman, who was unable to fly to the TRNC last month for the funeral of his mother due to the pandemic, wrote the following message underneath Ersin Tatar’s Facebook post:
“Thank you sir, for your kind words. I lost my mother on 20th March in Magusa, in very tragic circumstances. Unfortunately I was unable to attend her funeral, due to the current circumstances. Your kind words are much appreciated and valued. I watch and wait from the UK, for the time when flights are continued, so I can say goodbye to my mother and see how my father is doing. Heartfelt respects to all my family and to you and your family sir.”
Ahmet Şişik, who runs a taxi firm in the TRNC, wrote this about the Ersin Tatar’s address to the nation: “Superrrrrrrrr we pray for the world especially for Northern Cyprus”.
Foreign residents in North Cyprus also praised the Prime Minister. Werner Taylor wrote in the North Cyprus Expats Group, “Nice heartfelt address, well done”, and added the thumbs up emoji, while Linda Neelydownie posted in the same group, “Well spoken and we are very proud to be part of TRNC.”
Not all Turkish Cypriots were impressed however, with some doubting his sincerity, pointing out the Prime Minister’s offensive comments about foreign students and workers last month.
Ersin Tatar’s speech in full:
“Selamlar dear friends,
I address you not just as the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but also as a father, son, husband, neighbour, and friend.
Like all of you, I am shocked and saddened by the impact the coronavirus is having on our world. Every aspect of our lives is affected. And the daily statistics of those infected and dying from this deadly disease is frightening.
We look on with deep concern particularly at the events in the United Kingdom, where at least 33 of our brothers and sisters have lost their lives, and many others remain in a critical condition in hospital.
My heart aches for those who are forced to endure this deadly disease alone, their relatives unable to visit and comfort them in their final days and hours due to fears of contagion.
Many of these families have also been prevented from attending funerals to say their final goodbyes to fathers, mothers, and grandparents, as they self-isolate. Nor can they receive friends and family to comfort them in their greatest hour of need.
The death of any loved one is hard, but to endure it under these conditions is beyond comprehension.
Later today, there will be a special Mevlit in London for all the Turkish Cypriot victims of coronavirus. I, and I am sure many of you, will watch and pray together for these dearly departed souls.
Let us also pray for all the other victims of this terrible virus here in Cyprus, in Turkey and all around the world.
I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those who are working during this pandemic, many putting their own lives at risk to save others.
I salute the doctors and nurses, the care workers, the emergency services, the civil servants and those in the private sector who are all sacrificing their personal safety to deliver essential services to society.
We have so many heroes here in the TRNC and abroad. Thank you for everything you do.
I also know many of you have deep financial concerns. Without a doubt, this extraordinary crisis has and will continue to cause huge challenges and hardships for many of us.
But, as the history of the Turkish Cypriot people shows, when we unite we can overcome even the greatest of adversities.
Finally, I wish to urge everyone to be a good neighbour and a good citizen.
The TRNC, like the rest of the world, is on lockdown. It is for our collective good that we remain at home.
But we should also be vigilant and in regular contact with our relatives and friends, particularly those living alone, the elderly, and the vulnerable.
Call them every day. Make sure they know you care for and love them, for tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
Let us try to make the best use of this time to improve ourselves and to be helpful to those most in need.
May Allah watch over all of us, and give strength and patience to all who are suffering.
Better days, I hope, will come.”