British government rejects e-petition for direct flights to KKTC

May 05, 2007, Saturday/ 20:18:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
The British government has rejected an e-petition requesting direct flights from London to Ercan Airport in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC)."We have received clear legal advice that, under the terms of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Republic of Cyprus would first have to designate Ercan as an international airport," the British government said in its response to the e-petition, signed by nearly 8,000 people and sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The British authorities earlier rejected a request from Turkish Cypriot Airlines (KTHY) to begin direct flights to and from Ercan on the same grounds. The government response to the e-petition said such flights "would be incompatible with both our international obligations under the Chicago Convention and our domestic legal obligations."

The petition noted that the UN, the US and the EU pledged to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots following the community's vote to accept a UN unification plan in 2004 and that a number of commitments have been made by the British government, and by Blair personally, since then to end embargoes on trade and direct flights. The petition requested that the British government support the KTHY request to allow direct flights.

Although it rejected the direct flights, the government said: "Lifting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots remains a priority for the British government. Europe wants to put market forces at the service of a settlement in Cyprus, and to promote reunification of the island by bringing Turkish Cypriots closer to their fellow European citizens. Direct flights between European airports and Ercan would represent a big step in that direction."

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