President Erdoğan confirms discussing direct flights to Ercan with Putin and “economic leap” for TRNC economy from Russian tourism

Turkiye’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told reporters in New York that he has discussed the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus with his Russian counterpart, including direct flights.

“If direct flights start from Russia to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, we will of course be pleased,” President Erdoğan said.

His statement on direct flights came as part of a longer response to journalist Şebnem Bursalı, where he also highlighted the positive impact Russian tourism could have on the Turkish Cypriot economy following such flights.

The ATV Ankara correspondent and Sabah newspaper columnist was attending a press conference with the Turkish president at Turkevi in New York and asked the Turkish leader about his speech at the UN General Assembly the previous day, and specifically on what he said about the TRNC.

She started by noting the “noise” President Erdoğan’s UN speech had made, which included his call for the recognition of the TRNC. She asked the Turkish president about the news about direct flights from Russia to the TRNC and about recognition for the Turkish Cypriot state.

“Your speech at the United Nations yesterday made a lot of noise. There were a lot of themes; one of them was related to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. You once again repeated your call for the removal of the embargo against the TRNC and the recognition of the TRNC as a state, at the United Nations General Assembly, and this made a lot of noise,” said Ms Bursalı before continuing:

“One of the developments in this regard was Russia’s appointment of a Muslim ambassador to Cyprus a while ago. This was interpreted as a gesture in a sense. Now, the news that there may be direct flights from Russia to the TRNC has also spread. Comments were made that this could be a very important step in the recognition of the TRNC.

“I would like to ask your opinion on this. Will there be any concrete steps regarding the recognition of the TRNC from now on, what else can we expect?” Ms Bursalı asked President Erdoğan.

Journalist Şebnem Bursalı discussed the significance of President Erdoğan’s UN talk with TRNC President Ersin Tatar in New York

The Turkish President gave a lengthy response, explaining that he has regularly talked to Vladimir Putin and other international leaders about the Cyprus issue.  He said he would naturally welcome direct flights, noting the large potential to North Cyprus from Russian tourism.

“Of course, our policy towards Northern Cyprus is clear. This is indisputable. We do not see Northern Cyprus as a random country. We have accepted it as an extension of ourselves, this is the we see it, and this is the way will continue to see,” said President Erdoğan.

“I touched on the Cyprus issue. I talked to him about this issue constantly. We have always repeated and always expressed our rightful struggle in Cyprus to all the leaders we have hosted or visited in our country, and that the issue should be resolved in a just and permanent way.

“If direct flights start from Russia to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, we will of course be pleased. Another very important aspect of this is: as you know, the tourist potential of Russia is very high.

“One of the most important sources of income for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is tourism. I believe that such a flow in tourism to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will lead to a serious economic leap for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” the Turkish president continued.

“It is already a country with a very good infrastructure for tourism. Hopefully, the results to be obtained in this regard will carry the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus much further. I hope that with the recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the coming period, a very different future awaits there.”

The TRNC Transport Minister Erhan Arıklı has already confirmed there are two new airlines interested in flying to Ercan, and that flights could start as early as November.


Photo of President Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin at meeting in Moscow, Russia, 6 March 2020