Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Media Watch 2003

22 May 2003
Source: BBC
Author: Tabitha Morgan
Comment: The following article appeared on BBC news online on 22 May 2003
Sting in tail of Cyprus visa offer

Greek Cypriots are to be allowed to travel to Turkey on holiday from Thursday after years of only being allowed visas for special business, cultural or academic travel.

The move was announced by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week following a decision by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to relax travel restrictions within Cyprus itself.

The announcement that Greek Cypriots could apply for visas to enter the country at Turkish airports like any other tourists seems like a major concession.

But in practice it is unlikely to make much difference to the everyday lives of most Greek Cypriots.

Those who are keen to visit "Constantinopli" - Greeks still refer to Istanbul by its Byzantine name - will have to travel via Athens.

The journey is complicated because there are no direct flights to Turkey from airports in the southern part of Cyprus and the Cypriot government does not recognise the legality of airports and ports in the north.

Allowing Greek Cypriots to leave Cyprus this way would be tantamount to recognising the breakaway Turkish Cypriot republic, something the government here would never do.

Greek Cypriots who did attempt to fly out from one of the two Turkish Cypriot airports would therefore face arrest by their own Greek Cypriot authorities when they returned home to the south and would be charged with entering the country illegally.

Faced with all of this, most Greek Cypriots are likely to opt to take their holidays elsewhere."