The president of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, Ersin Tatar was in London last week to meet with a host of British dignitaries and journalists to promote his two-state solution for Cyprus.
Arriving in London on Monday, 27 March, President Tatar and his team quickly got down to business, attending a reception with journalists the same evening.
Some of the media personalities who attended included Amanda Platell (Daily Mail columnist), Andrew Pierce (Daily Mail and GB News), Camilla Tominey (Daily Telegraph columnist), and Harry Cole (political editor of The Sun).
Also present at Monday’s reception was Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, who has been vocal about the need for direct flights to North Cyprus.
There were further receptions during the four-day trip to allow President Tatar and his delegation to meet with other political commentators and key figures from think tanks, such as the influential transatlantic foreign policy group, the Henry Jackson Society.
On Wednesday, President Tatar visited the British Parliament, where he met with a number of peers and MPs to give them a briefing on the latest developments concerning the Cyprus dispute.
The president and his team also met with officials from the British Foreign Office, continuing a long-standing tradition of informal relations with the British authorities, who do not formally recognise the TRNC.
Other dignitaries the TRNC President met with while in London included Lord Rogan, the Northern Irish peer who recently visited the TRNC, Baroness Meral Ece, the first Turkish Cypriot peer, Brooks Newmark, a former Civil Societies Minister and Conservative MP, and Azerbaijani MP Ramil Hasan, who was visiting London. Hasan was formerly the General Secretary of the Organization of Turkic States where the TRNC now holds Observer status.
Public relations were at the forefront of President Tatar’s visit, who took to the airwaves to explain why he had moved away from federal solution that would unify the island and was instead advocating a two-state settlement for Cyprus. The president appeared on the radio shows of LBC presenter Iain Dale, and the mid-week Times Radio slot presented by former Conservative Scottish leader Ruth Davidson.
The Turkish Cypriot leader experienced one ugly episode during his visit to the British capital, when some students of Greek and Greek Cypriot origin tried to block his car from entering King’s College London, where he was due to give a talk.
Around 30 protestors, some holding Greek flags, others racist banners, including one with the deeply offensive ‘Bloody Map’ stood on the pavements. As the cars carrying the TRNC leader and his team arrived, a few of the protestors tried to jump in front of them as they tried to turn into the university campus but were stopped by security.
President Tatar went on to give a talk on the Cyprus Dispute and his two-state solution to a large group of students from the university’s Turkish Society, who welcomed the Turkish Cypriot leader with a standing ovation.
‘Two states in Cyprus’ book launch
President Tatar held a press conference at the TRNC London Office in Bedford Square to launch a new book, The Vision for Two States in Cyprus, about his proposed settlement, which has been penned by his foreign press officer Kerem Haser.
Haser, formerly the chief reporter for Cyprus Today, captures the Turkish Cypriot leader’s journey as he tries to secure international buy-in to his policy for TRNC recognition, arguing that the international community must accept the realities on the ground in Cyprus and that, after over fifty years of failed talks, the division in Cyprus is permanent.
The story starts with Tatar’s narrow election victory over pro-federation incumbent Mustafa Akıncı in October 2020, giving the conservative politician a mandate from Turkish Cypriot voters to pursue his two-state vision.
Over the next two years, the former leader of the National Unity Party (UBP) sets about shaking up the stale politics surrounding the Cyprus dispute.
Haser charts the events from 2020 to the end of 2022, including insights into the events in Geneva in April 2021 where, under the auspices of the United Nations, Tatar and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, and the foreign ministers of Cyprus’ three guarantor powers, Turkiye, Greece and the United Kingdom, came together to explore whether there was any common ground for new talks. The UN concluded there was not.
The book covers the historic call from the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to member states at the UN General Assembly in September 2022 to recognise the TRNC.
Haser also documents another ground-breaking development two months later that saw the TRNC admitted into the Organization of Turkic States as an Observer Member.
Turkish Cypriot civil society
Despite having a packed schedule, Ersin Tatar also made time to meet with activists and community leaders, including Halil Izzet, the Vice-President of the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations UK (CTCA), Arife Retvan, head of the Limasollular Association, and Eren Ramadan, the founder of the Young Turkish Cypriots (YTC) group, which now boasts more than 10K social media followers who have been at the forefront of combating Greek Cypriot anti-Turkish propaganda.
President Tatar also came together with a delegation from the Turkish Police Association. Those present were of Turkish Cypriot origin, including TPA head Sgt Eren Emin, the group’s secretary Abide Osman, and PC Akşit Ekrem, who recently received a national bravery award after arresting a man who attacked him and his colleagues with a sword.
Also in attendance at the TPA meeting with the President was Erim Metto. Better known as TCCA (Turkish Cypriot Community Association) Haringey head, Metto, a former magistrate, came in his capacity as a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Independent Advisory Group.
The TRNC London Representative, Ambassador Çimen Keskin was on hand to support President Tatar and his delegation throughout the visit. Those who travelled with the president to London included his Special Representative Ergün Olgun, Güneş Onar, who is responsible for the TRNC President’s Confidence Building Measures and Bilateral Technical Committees Coordinator, and Special Advisor and international relations expert Prof. Hüseyin Işıksal.
The President’s London visit was supported by a number of organisations, including a new pro-Turkish Cypriot lobby group called Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus, and the TRNC’s British Residents Society, which has been lobbying British MPs to help end the international isolation of people living in North Cyprus.
Main picture, top, of (l-r) Special Representative Ergün Olgun, President Tatar, Lord Rogan, and Ambassador Çimen Keskin in the Houses of Parliament, 29 March 2023. Photo © TRNC Presidency