Veteran Turkish Cypriot community activist Ertuğrul Mehmet has been elected the new president of the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations in Britain (CTCA UK). He was one of two candidates to stand in Sunday’s election, beating fellow committee member Ayşe Osman 39 votes to 16, to become CTCA’s thirteenth president.
The members-only secret ballot took place at CTCA’s Annual General Meeting at Grand Palace, Wood Green, with the venue’s downstairs room packed for the event.
After being confirmed the winner Mr Mehmet, a former chairman of Southgate Ataturk Turkish School and the long-time co-ordinator of the Turkish Education Consortium, thanked everyone for voting him “to be the next president of this distinguished organisation.”
He reflected on his experiences with CTCA, stating: “I started working with Mr Ahmet Nazim’s Management Committee as Chair of the Education Committee. He was my first teacher. Then I worked with the late Aysın Yılmaz for two years as [CTCA] Secretary. Then this year with Leyla Kemal as [CTCA] Secretary too. I learned different things from all of them.”
Noting the progress made under his predecessor Leyla Kemal, whom he thanked for “working tirelessly for four years,” Mr Mehmet added that through his new “energetic, young committee and the support of [CTCA] members”, the voluntary-managed organisation will advance to “another level in the near future”.
New CTCA Committee
Mr Mehmet introduced his new committee, which saw him appoint his opponent Ms Osman as one of his two vice-presidents.
- President: Ertuğrul Mehmet
- Vice-Presidents: Ayşe Osman and Kenan Nafi
- Treasurer: Erden Teoman
- Secretary: Sonya Karafistan
- Management Committee Members: Duygu Tağmaç, Eddie Ertan, Enis Rıfat, Ertan Cemal, Eray Galip, İlkay İsa, and Japha Huse
The new 12-person CTCA committee is more diverse than in previous years. Several young Turkish Cypriots – online funny man Eray Galip of Turkishisms fame, and singer and political activist Japha Huse – are among the team co-opted to help run CTCA.
The Management Committee also includes Conservative councillor İlkay İsa, who hosted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in her Chingford home before December’s General Election, and businessman Eddie Ertan.
Ayşe Osman, Kenan Nafi and Duygu Tağmaç ensure continuity from the previous committee, while the new arrivals bring a wealth of additional skills, from sales to advertising production, broadcast media, legal, and property management.
About new CTCA President Ertuğrul Mehmet
Now aged 71, Ertuğrul Mehmet was born in Cyprus and came to Britain in 1970 at the age of 20.
His working career started in a catering firm, where he was first employed as a washer up, before becoming a chef, waiter, manager, and eventually area manager.
He left in 1975 to become a director and partner in an electrical company. Eight years later, he formed his own building company, adding a stake in two restaurant businesses (fish and chips, and kebab house) in 1988.
Married with two children and four grandchildren, Mr Mehmet was able to retire in 1997 at the age of 48, and has since devoted his time to voluntary community works.
Between 1997 and 2015, and again from 2018, he has served on the Southgate Ataturk Turkish School Management Committee, two of these years as chairman.
He was Secretary and later Co-ordinator of the Turkish Language Culture and Education Consortium (2003 -2015) and has had several stints on the CTCA Management Committee, most recently as Secretary (2019-2020), helping with the organisation of the CTCA Festival and Gala Awards night.
Mr Mehmet told T-VINE before Sunday’s election that his vision for CTCA is for the body to be: “respected by everyone in the community.” It follows a two-year period of strained relations with the heads of other Turkish Cypriot organisations, notably the Turkish Community Football Association (TTFF) and Turkish Cypriot Community Association (TCCA)
Known in the community for his warm and unifying stance, Mr Mehmet said he would work towards “division between CTCA and [its] opponents to be minimised and turned into cooperation by supporting each other’s good works.”
The CTCA compromises of 28 member associations, from Turkish supplementary schools, to cultural associations, faith-based, and community support groups.
As the largest umbrella body for British Turkish Cypriots, the organisation gives national representation to the UK’s 300,000-strong Turkish Cypriot community, whose work straddles civic engagement, education and advocacy.
Main photo, top: new CTCA President Ertuğrul Mehmet (right) with his new VPs Ayşe Osman (centre) & Kenan Nafi after CTCA UK AGM, Sunday 1 March 2020. Photo © Ipek Ozerim/T-VINE