A Conservative Member of Parliament has challenged the British government on failing to accept certificates for AstraZeneca Covid vaccines administered in Turkey and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC).
Julian Sturdy, the MP for York Outer, asked the Health Secretary Sajid Javid about “what discussions” he has had with his “international counterparts” on recognising these vaccinations.
By the time he received a response, the Health Ministry had announced its recognition of Turkey’s vaccine certificates for approved Covid vaccinations. However, there was no resolution for people who had been administered with approved Covid vaccines in North Cyprus.
Mr Sturdy posed the following question to Health Minister Sajid Javid:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions has he had with his international counterparts on recognising AstraZeneca vaccines administered in (a) Turkey and (b) TRNC within the UK.”
Mr Sturdy received a written reply from Maggie Throup, MP for Erewash and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, on 27 October 2021.
“From 11 October, travellers vaccinated in over 37 countries and territories became eligible for reduced testing and quarantine requirements for ‘rest of the world’ category countries, if they have not visited a ‘red list’ country or territory in the 10 days before arriving in England. These travellers should also be fully vaccinated with one of the four Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved vaccines, AstraZeneca/Vaxzevria, Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen. This includes derivations, such as Covishield.
“Those fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine arriving from Turkey can demonstrate their status with a vaccine certificate from the relevant public health body. Arrivals from Cyprus must use the Cypriot EU Digital COVID Certificate to demonstrate their vaccine status.”
The response made no reference to the TRNC, nor did it reflect the difficulties people vaccinated in North Cyprus would have in obtaining a certificate from either Turkey or the Greek Cypriot-administered Republic of Cyprus in the south of the island.
As a result, people vaccinated in the TRNC even with approved Covid vaccines such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer sent by the European Union and the UK must undergo ten days home quarantine when they arrive in Britain. They must also undertake costly PCR tests before travel and twice after arriving.
The UK’s TRNC Covid policy is having a particularly adverse impact on those in wishing to make short trips to Britain from North Cyprus.
Earlier this week, renowned Turkish Cypriot artist Emin Çizenel was unable to travel to London for the gala reception of TA London at the Saatchi Gallery – the first major contemporary art exhibition of Turkish artists where Mr Çizenel’s work is also on display. Mr Çizenel would have needed to have arrived in Britain 11 days before the exhibition opened just to attend the reception.
The same challenges will exist for Turkish Cypriots wanting to attend World Travel Market in London – one of the largest international tourism trade fairs – which starts on Monday, 1 November.
One senior Turkish Cypriot official, who asked not to be named, told T-VINE that the “deliberate exclusion of the TRNC vaccine certificates is the latest example of the UK pushing Turkish Cypriots and North Cyprus towards becoming a province of Turkey or accepting minority status within a Greek Cypriot administered Cyprus.”
Main photo, top, of Julian Sturdy MP, 2019 Official Parliamentary Portrait, cropped. Photo © David Woolfall, CC by 3-0