TRNC driving licences are no longer being accepted as valid in Australia, thanks to Greek Cypriot pressure. The ban reverses a decades-old agreement by vetting agency Austroads that TRNC licence-holders conformed to its driving standards, and could legally drive in Australia. Thousands of perfectly capable TRNC licence-holders will now have to take a new driving test.
The new ban was confirmed in a letter from the Victoria State agency Vicroads to the TRNC’s honorary representative in Victoria, Mr Hasan Sayar. He told Cyprus Today: “Until recently, Vicroads was accepting my endorsement of TRNC licences for the purposes of conversion to Victorian licences.”
“Just recently, I was informed by Vicroads that the Greek Cypriot Government of South Cyprus has advised them that the TRNC licences are issued by an incompetent authority.”
According to a news report by Kerem Hasan for Cyprus Today, the decision came after a TRNC citizen asked the Republic of Cyprus’ High Commission to recognise his driving licence. As a result, the High Commission contacted Austroads and demanded that only licences issued by their administration in the south of Cyprus be recognised.
David Shelton, a Vicroads executive director, has written to other agencies as follows: “Vicroads will recognise driver licences issued in those countries or jurisdictions that have been agreed to by Austroads. On this basis, licences issued under the law of the Republic of Cyprus will be recognised by Vicroads under the category of ‘Experienced Driver Country or Jurisdiction.’ “
“Licences issued in the TRNC are not currently recognised by Austroads. As such, applicants who hold driver licences issued in the TRNC are required to undergo the appropriate tests if they wish to obtain a Victoria driving licence.”
“TRNC licence holders are allowed to drive in South Cyprus & the UK, so they meet skills & safety criteria.”
Mr Tarkan Fahri, President of the Australian North Cypriot Friendship Association, told T-VINE: “Since TRNC licence holders are allowed to drive in the south of Cyprus, not to mention the UK, it is clearly obvious they meet common criteria of skills and safety. This ban shows the lack of respect and recognition of the people of Northern Cyprus by the international authorities, demonstrating that there is no real assistance being given by government bodies towards any recognition of the TRNC, or its citizens. We fear many other things, including TRNC educational qualifications, will also become unrecognised.”
“This is only a small example of the struggles faced by TRNC migrants in Australia. It is a continuing goal of the Australian North Cyprus Friendship Association (ANCFA) with the assistance of the ATA-A [Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance] to convey these concerns to government departments and overcome these issues.”