Letters, Why are you treating us like lepers, TRNC?

Dear T-VINE,

I’ve been following the travel advice updates closely and have to say I am really upset with the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and its policy towards travellers from the United Kingdom.

At the beginning of this coronavirus crisis, I and other British Turkish Cypriots and expats applauded the TRNC for taking quick action to deal with the serious threat posed by this deadly pandemic.

We were all proud to see North Cyprus become the first country in the world to eliminate the virus with its comprehensive lockdown measures, and we understood the cautious approach the government took in re-opening the country.

Initially, I could not complain that the TRNC wanted to keep British visitors at bay given the UK was so ‘high risk’, with one of the worst records in the world for coronavirus deaths and infections.

Naturally I, and hundreds of others in Britain, are desperate to visit North Cyprus this year. I have a family home there and visit every summer without fail, and many other times throughout the year.

I missed the funeral of my dear uncle, who passed away earlier this year. I would love to be spending Bayram comforting my grieving relatives in Kıbrıs.

There are also practical reasons I need to get to the TRNC, such as paying my car tax and house insurance and taking care of lots of other house-related matters. Due to the archaic government system, many of the services I need to access are still not online and there appears to be no grace period for those of us locked out due to this pandemic.

The lack of information from the TRNC authorities about these issues has added to my frustration.

But I have to say I’ve hit boiling point these past few weeks looking at the vastly different entry conditions for those travelling from Turkey compared to the UK.

Exactly what criteria is TRNC Health Minister Dr Pilli and his team using for their country risk assessments? How is Turkey still a Category B country, which means travellers can enter the TRNC without any quarantine, when it has double the infection rate of the UK, which remains a Category C country with mandatory quarantine?

Yes, it was good to see the quarantine period for the UK drop from 14 to 7 days, but really, we shouldn’t be in Category C at all.

When challenged about the lack of quarantine for Turkey, TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said today, “there is no question of imposing 7-day quarantine on either those coming from Turkey or South Cyprus” because of their importance to the TRNC economy.

Well what about ending quarantine for Britain for the same reason? Or doesn’t the spending power of British Turkish Cypriots count anymore?

It makes be so angry we are facing this discrimination – it’s like we are lepers!

Yours faithfully,

A. Bayram, London