UK Foreign Office does a “copy and paste” job on its response to direct flights petition

The UK Government has formally responded to a petition calling for direct flights to Ercan Airport in North Cyprus by using a near identical response to another direct flights petition last year.

The current petition, launched by Kadir Kanizi on the UK Parliament website on 1 May 2021, quickly attracted over 10,000 signatures. Reaching that milestone guaranteed a response from the British government, which came in the early hours of this morning.

Over 12,000 people have signed the to date, and each one would have been emailed this response, penned by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) on behalf of the government:

UK government response to Kadir Kanizi’s direct petition

“The UK Government has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus. Direct flights would breach obligations under international law.

“The UK Government has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus. In accordance with the rest of the international community, with the sole exception of Turkey, the UK does not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ as an independent state. The United Kingdom recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the sovereign authority for the island of Cyprus. As a result, the UK Government cannot negotiate an Air Services Agreement with the administration in the north of Cyprus.

“The Republic of Cyprus has not designated any airport in the northern part of Cyprus with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); as such, no airports in that part of Cyprus are listed by ICAO as open for international traffic.

“The UK High Court also ruled in 2009 (Kibris Türk Hava Yollari v Secretary of State for Transport) that allowing direct flights to Ercan airport in the north of Cyprus would breach our international legal obligations. This is because it would fail to respect the Republic of Cyprus’ rights under the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, including to choose which airports to designate as customs airports. This ruling was endorsed by the Court of Appeal in 2010.

“In light of the above, it would be unlawful for the Government to authorise direct flights to the northern part of Cyprus.

“Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, 29 May 2021”

Just six new words in the current response

The only change to the government’s response to another direct flights petition in September 2020 is a six word insertion in paragraph two: “with the sole exception of Turkey”.

The FCDO had previously, wrongly, claimed the UK’s position not to recognise the TRNC was in line with the entirety of the international community, failing to admit that the TRNC is recognised by Turkey.

“Feeling furious at the continuous injustice!”

British Turkish Cypriots were critical of their government’s response to the call to allow direct flights to Ercan Airport.

One Twitter poster, Queen B, called it a “bad morning for Turkish Cypriots” highlighting the cancellation of a North Cyprus concert by DJ Kolsch and the government’s response to the direct flights petition, stating she was “feeling furious at the continuous injustice!”

Ercan Airport, July 2020


Many others also vented their anger and frustration on social media. A post on the Turkish Cypriot Community UK (TCCUK) Facebook group, which has over 11,000 members, asking who had received the emailed government response generated dozens of replies.

Aysun Ibrahim said she was “fuming” after receiving the petition response, while Seher Özdenya called it “a joke and so unfair!”

Ertan Ibrahim also wrote about the lack of fairness, while reminding the community about the loyalty Turkish Cypriots had shown Britain in their fight against EOKA terrorists during the Cyprus Emergency:

“It is not fair for not helping Turkish Cypriots to fly direct to North Cyprus. Especially for disabled and elderly. We expect Britain to help us as we helped them during 1957 to 1960 against Eoka. At least allow direct flights for disabled and elderly people.”

“Its [sic] the same response they copy and paste each year, without change on the political stage it will unfortunately always be the answer,” noted Ilhan Evlat.

Bulent Shaban posted “Boring old tactics by the government, their [sic] the ones that put us into this situation in the first place. UN done nothing to help the Turkish Cypriots in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s instead they handed Cyprus over to the Greeks on a plate.”

“We shall not give up on our rights, let’s not let them win, let’s keep on getting our voices heard,” Shaban added.

T-VINE has contacted petition organiser Kadir Kanizi for comment on the government’s response to his petition.