Russia plans for direct flights to Turkish-occupied Cyprus: Milliyet newspaper

Ercan International Airport Russia

Turkish media have reported that Russia is planning for direct flights to the Turkish-occupied territories of Cyprus.

According to the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, the first direct flight from Russia to the occupied territories of northern Cyprus will take place on November 15.

The date marks the anniversary of the 1983 declaration of the pseudo-state of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", which is recognised by no other country but Turkey.

The Turkish newspaper cited diplomatic sources as saying that the Russian government had given its consent to start direct flights to the illegal airport in occupied Cyprus, which was renovated and will be inaugurated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Milliyet commented that this development is perceived as a diplomatic victory for the pseudo-state and Turkey and that it will pave the way for the recognition of the pseudo-state, whose existent is in violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions.

It should be noted that Turkey has included the airport of the pseudo-state as its own and considers flights to the occupied territories as domestic.

Russia last week appointed a new ambassador to Nicosia, who for the first time is a Muslim, a former KGB agent whose name has been implicated in criminal acts, with shadows over the murder of a journalist in Ingushetia.

Tatar celebrates

The Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar described the alleged flights as a very important step for the recognition of the pseudo-state.

In his statements to the Milliyet newspaper, Tatar said that "we will welcome it if such a development occurs with Russia in the context of the political balance with Turkey."

"Such a development would be a very important step for the TRNC, this is how the recognition begins, the important thing is the economic movements".

Ersin Tatar said that Turkey has already operated direct flights to the illegal airport since the 1970s.

“According to our lawyers, there is no reason why there should not be direct flights. But the Greek Cypriots are opposing with the aim of blocking our progress and bringing us to our knees," he said.

"Russia, for its own reasons, withdraws this objection. If a private company wants to fly from Moscow directly to Ercan airport, there is no problem, since as Moscow says, it is company policy, that will happen."

The Turkish Cypriot leader said that all developments regarding direct flights should be in the knowledge of Turkey.

He claimed that "the participation of southern Cyprus (internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus) in the sanctions against Russia has worsened relations with Russia", adding that "Russia is uncomfortable with this".

Ercan (TYMBOU) is a closed airport situated in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus, which the Government of Cyprus, as the sole legitimate and internationally recognized authority on the island, has declared since 1974 as an illegal point of entry into and exit from the Republic of Cyprus, for the reason of not being able to exercise control over the occupied part of its territory, as a result of the continuing Turkish military occupation.

Under International law the Republic of Cyprus is the sole sovereign authority with exclusive jurisdiction to determine which of its airports on its territory are open and functioning, as well as the terms of their operation.

It is also important to note that Ercan is located on property belonging to a significant number of Greek Cypriot refugees who were forcibly expelled from their properties by the invasion forces.

These refugees still remain the legal owners of their properties and they have never consented for the construction of the airport and its use as such.

In that regard reference is made to the cases of Loizidou vs Turkey and Xenides-Arestis vs Turkey in which the European Court of Human Rights held that the applicants remain the legal owners of their property in the occupied areas and that Turkey continues to be in breach of Article 1, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The so-called Ercan airport is not recognised by ICAO, which is the highest international authority on legal issues relating to civil aviation in general. ICAO’s policy on matters relating to Cyprus is in conformity with that of the United Nations and the international community.

Consequently, ICAO recognises only the Republic of Cyprus and its Government as the sole representative of the whole island. It should also be stressed that according to ICAO decisions of 1974, 1975 and 1977, a country not exercising temporarily effective control over its territory by reason of military occupation, does not lose its sovereign rights over such territory and the airspace above it.

Furthermore, Turkey, in violation of the Chicago Convention on the International Civil Aviation, the constitutional instrument of ICAO, and its Annexes, to which 188 countries, including the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, are States-Parties to and following a number of illegal acts after the Turkish invasion, proclaimed the establishment of “Ercan advisory service” which lies in the northern part of Nicosia FIR.

The illegal operation of the unrecognised “ERCAN advisory service” causes serious risks over safety, flight efficiency and airspace development in the region and in particular increased workload and inconvenience both for aircrews and Nicosia ACC Controllers and leads to misunderstandings due to the intervention in the provision of Air Traffic Control Services.

Ankara ACC should be called upon to adopt standard ICAO procedures and transfer southbound traffic to the contiguous Nicosia control and to take practical steps for the restoration of the voice link between Ankara and Nicosia ACC's.

Any possible use by international traffic, of the illegally operating airports, such as “ERCAN” (TYMPOU), violates International law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, E.U. positions and contravenes the ICAO and the EUROCONTROL Conventions, and their respective norms, standards, procedures and recommended practices.

READ MORE: Turkey angrily reacts to the US lifting the arms embargo on Cyprus.