From the new Ercan Airport to Barbie’s pink mules, and overseas voting in Turkiye’s Presidential Elections, here are T-VINE’s big stories of 2023

T-VINE Magazine readers really do love a good news story. Two thirds of our most well-read and commented stories of 2023 were about positive developments, charity or success stories.

There are four separate news items about the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus that feature in our Top 15, including our biggest story of 2023 by a country mile on the new Ercan Airport. This in-depth piece covered Ercan’s fascinating past as a British military airport through to its flawed opening on 20 July and future aspirations for direct flights.

Figures released by the TRNC Institute of Statistics in September gave important insights about North Cyprus’ major economic growth in 2022 (9th on our Top 15 list). In November, we marked the 40th anniversary of this small and politically unrecognised country (6th on our list). Also making it on to our Top 15 was news about Russia opening a consulate in the TRNC (12th on our list), which created a major international buzz.

Other significant stories of 2023 were those about successful British Turks, including Turkish Cypriot-owned GINA Shoes, whose pink mules featured in the blockbuster movie Barbie. We put the spotlight on five police officers being commended for bravery, whilst also covering another two officers on their epic month-long charity bike ride across Europe to support children with cancer.

Naturally, British Turks are also keen on harder edged news pieces. Chief among these was T-VINE breaking the news that Tottenham Park Cemetery – the UK’s largest burial site for British Turks – was under new ownership, and our coverage of the diaspora voting on the Turkish Presidential Elections.

We also led with how popular Turkish DJ Koray Alpergin was brutally tortured and killed – with horrific details provided by the prosecutor during the trial of six men who were accused of abducting and killing Koray.

Propping up our Top 15 biggest stories of 2023 was a story of a large survey into religiosity in Turkiye, which suggests 1 in 10 young Turks no longer believe in God. The article was one of the most commented T-VINE stories of the year.

T-VINE Top 15 Stories of 2023

Below is T-VINE’s Top 15 Stories of 2023. Click on the headers to read the whole article.

  1. Everything you need to know about the new Ercan – Cyprus’ largest airport


Our most read and shared news story of 2023 was about the new Ercan International Airport. Eight years in the making and costing some €450 million to construct, the airport finally opened over the summer to great fanfare.

Our in-depth feature examines the facilities at the new Ercan Airport, how the project came about and the controversies behind it, the airport’s history and inspiration behind its Ercan name, and the likelihood of direct flights.


  1. Barbie wears Turkish Cypriot-owned GINA Shoes’ pink mules in blockbuster movie

This summer’s global blockbuster movie was undoubtedly Barbie. The fantasy comedy inspired by Mattel’s iconic fashion doll has taken over $1.2 billion at box offices worldwide, breaking multiple records in the process. Yet who knew Barbie’s footwear in the film – two eye-catching pink mules – were designed by Turkish Cypriot-owned GINA Shoes?

The film’s official trailer starts with a leg shot of Barbie actress Margot Robbie as she steps out of a pair of showstopping high-heeled baby pink satin mules – the Malibu – adorned with Swarovski crystals and a playful pink feather trim. We share the backstory of GINA and its Turkish Cypriot founder Mehmet Kurdash and how he came to create one of the world’s leading luxury footwear brands.


  1. Review: Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival 2023 was fabulous and fun, but not without its flaws

After an absence of four years due to the pandemic, the Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival on Donkey Lane, North London, was back, drawing thousands of people.

TRNC President Ersin Tatar was among this year’s crowd, who were treated to superb entertainment across two stages, including three chart-topping Turkish Cypriot stars: headliner Işın Karaca, Eylem and Ali Babutsa. But this fantastic event was not without its faults, as our review highlighted…


  1. Tottenham Park Cemetery under new ownership as Peter Demetriou sells up

Privately owned Tottenham Park Cemetery is the UK’s biggest burial site for Turks, with thousands of our relatives laid to rest there. For years, its poor state and overuse has angered bereaved families and led to investigations by the Ministry of Justice.

When T-VINE revealed the site had been sold to new owners, the community went into overdrive sharing and commenting on the developments. Months earlier, we had reported that Peter Demetriou had turned down a “generous” six-figure offer to sell to Enfield Council; havng told us the cemetery was ‘not for sale’, Mr Demetriou sold the cemetery to a group of British Turkish businessmen…


  1. Two British Turkish female footballers, Halle Houssein and Mel Filis, pen new contracts with West Ham

The community was awash with pride when we shared the news that West Ham United Women had signed new contracts with two existing players, Melisa Filis and Halle Houssein. It gave us the opportunity to put the spotlight on these two gifted British footballers of Turkish heritage.

With growing interest in the women’s game, Mel and Halle are the perfect role models for other young and talented girls from our community and beyond to follow in their footsteps.


  1. “The concrete expression of our sovereignty and independence”, the TRNC turns 40 today

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) celebrated its fortieth anniversary on 15 November 2023. In her keynote address to the British diaspora on this special occasion, the TRNC London Representative, Ambassador Çimen Keskin, rightly stated that the TRNC is “the concrete expression of our sovereignty and independence” of Turkish Cypriots.

T-VINE explored the events that led to the historic declaration of the TRNC, while Ambassador Keskin explains why this major milestone is important for Turkish Cypriots worldwide.


  1. High UK turnout as Turkish diaspora casts votes in Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 2023

For two decades, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have dominated Turkish politics. With deep economic and social woes across the country, the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections on 14 May seemed to offer a strong chance for opposition parties to ditch the wily politician.

With so much at stake, it was no surprise there were record turnouts for the elections by voters abroad as well as inside Turkiye.  This was one of several stories T-VINE featured on the elections, highlighting the long queues at the London polling station – one of four locations for Turkish voters in the UK to cast their votes.


  1. Five Turkish Police Association members receive commendations from the Metropolitan Police

While nationally, the police continued to get bad press in 2023, the picture was more upbeat among our community, who were delighted to read about five Metropolitan police officers of Turkish heritage receiving commendations for going above and beyond the call of duty. Their stories are truly inspirational.

It’s rare that press are invited to a police commendation service, but back in April, T-VINE editor Ipek Ozerim was able to sit in on the Commendations Ceremony at Alexandra Palace, where Police Sergeant Eren Emin, Team Leader Abide Osman, Police Constable (PC) Haldun Huseyin, PC Yiğit Akdağ, and a fifth unnamed member of Turkish Police Association (TPA) received their awards from Detective Chief Superintendent Caroline Haines, the BCU Commander for Enfield and Haringey.


  1. North Cyprus economy boost as GDP grows by 13.3% in 2022, with tourism the strongest performer

Striking stories about North Cyprus always grabs attention, and this was again true when we highlighted significant economic growth and the key sectors which were propelling double-digit growth during 2022.

Figures released by the TRNC Statistics Institute in September showed that total GDP for 2022 stood at 73.8 billion TL (£2.2 billion). The depreciation of the Turkish lira, however, meant that per capita GDP was worth $14,636 (£11,999), which was still one of the highest on record for the TRNC.



  1. Court hears details of Koray Alpergin’s “sadistic” death as trial starts at Old Bailey

The murder of Koray Alpergin appeared in the top spot in our biggest stories of 2022. The popular DJ and Bizim FM founder appears in this year’s list too, as we kept readers abreast of the trial of six men variously accused of Koray’s murder, kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Jurors were told how the father-of-two was tortured to death by “sadistic thugs” on the opening day of the trial at the Old Bailey in September. The prosecutor said the case bore ‘all the hallmarks of serious organised crime’, as he outlined the multiple injuries found on Koray’s body.


  1. The role of Heydar Aliyev in the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the UK

In his centenary year, there were many articles about the late Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and his incredible legacy. One of the most popular was about his contribution to Azerbaijani-UK relations at a critical time for Aliyev’s country, which regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 after decades under Moscow’s control.

President Aliyev helped drive forward relations with the UK, the high point coming with a state visit to London in 1998. Among those he met with were Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prime Minister Tony Blair.


  1. Russian Embassy to start offering consular services in North Cyprus

There was plenty of excitement when official Russian News Agency Tass published news that the Russian Embassy in Cyprus was getting ready to offer consular services in North Cyprus. The news also highlighted the rapidly growing Russian community in the TRNC, which T-VINE expands upon.


  1. Police officers Ceyhun and Ryan start final week of London-to-Cyprus charity bike ride in aid of Tanyel’s Smile

It’s not every day people take a month of unpaid leave from work to go on an epic charity mission, but that’s exactly what two Metropolitan police officers, PC Ceyhun ‘Jay’ Uzun and PC Ryan McKinlay, did this autumn. The pair embarked on a 2,500 mile cycle ride from London to Cyprus to raise over £10,000 for a children’s cancer charity.

This intrepid duo kept our readers updated with regular photos, calls and text messages to the T-VINE team to share details of their progress as they cycled across France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Turkiye before reaching their destination in North Cyprus in October.


  1. Turks continue to cancel subscriptions after Disney+ abandons Atatürk TV drama, but is the reaction justified?

Earlir this year, Disney+ lost tens of thousands of subscribers after cancelling its plans to air a television drama series about the founding father of the modern Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Turks worldwide reacted furiously to the cancellation news, ostensibly due to American anti-Turkish lobbying, but was the reaction justified?

Perihan Korkmaz delves into the issue in this extended feature article, examining what happened at Disney+ to prompt the cancellation, while also assessing how influential the anti-series lobbying was.


  1. One in ten young Turks do not believe in God, new study finds

One of the most commented stories we ran in 2023 was on the results from a major survey into religiosity in Turkiye. The research, led by Dr Zübeyir Nişancı from Marmara University, assessed in detail the views of some 2,000 people of all ages and backgrounds.

Among the most striking findings was that 11% of young adults aged 18-24 “do not believe in God”. The figure rose to nearly two in five (18%) among those with a master’s degree or doctorate.