Deep Purple on BA flight to Ercan
By Constantinos Psillides
DEEP Purple, the legendary rock band, have arrived in Cyprus amid further controversy after they charted a British Airways plane that landed at Ercan airport, which is not internationally recognised.
According to the Turkish Daily Sabah website, this is the first time a commercial British plane has landed at Ercan.
The Cyprus News Agency said band members were greeted at the airport and then “taken to a hotel in occupied Nicosia”.
Deep Purple is scheduled to appear on Saturday at a park close to Near East University (NEU). NEU invited the band to perform as a part of their 25 year anniversary celebration.
The foreign ministry said on Saturday it would be launching a probe to determine whether the flight originated in Turkey or London, which permanent secretary Alexandros Zenon said would be illegal. The permanent secretary added that the state would also lodge a complaint with the Denmark-based company that seems to have rented the plane that transported the band.
Three weeks ago, Turkish community leader Dervis Eroglu had jokingly asked president Nicos Anastasiades to attend the concert with him, as a confidence building measure (CBM).
Deep Purple’s appearance has been criticised by Greek Cypriots, forcing the frontman Ian Gillan to issue a statement in April, defending the band’s decision to perform in northern Cyprus.
Gillan had said that the group wasn’t taking any sides and that Deep Purple had performed in many troubled regions in their touring history.
“We – DP – have never been on one side or the other when it comes to performing music. I remember – during the Cold War – hearing about visits to London by the Bolshoi Ballet and the top football teams from Moscow, also the Cossack dancers, and many other cultural exchanges between The West and The Soviet Union. The diplomatic and cultural side door was always open for art, entertainment and sport, no matter how frightening and confrontational all the rest of it was,” Gillan said, adding that the group had performed in many countries that had a conflict with someone else, such as Israel, Ukraine, China and Lebanon.
Zenon told Sigmalive on Saturday that his ministry had taken steps to cancel the concert and had contacted the band’s agency three weeks ago in London which referred them to another US-based agency. The permanent secretary said that they informed the agency of the political situation on the island and asked that the concert be cancelled but without success.