Government sources on Tuesday denied there are plans to launch direct flights from Russia to the north, branding reports saying this as ‘detached from reality’.
The Russian embassy in Nicosia followed a similar line, telling the Russian state agency PIA-Novosti it “refutes any negotiations for the opening of a direct air connection”.
Turkey’s Miliyet newspaper, quoting diplomatic sources, had reported earlier that the government of the Russian Federation has given its approval to direct flights from Russia to Ercan airport in the occupied north.
The first flight, according to the report, will take place on November 15, the anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence and the day the new airport will be inaugurated.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be on the first flight, Milliyet reported, describing the development as a diplomatic victory for the ‘TRNC’ and Turkey, and claiming this would pave the way for the recognition of the pseudo-state.
Erdogan has close ties with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and relations between the two countries have been unaffected by the war in Ukraine.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar was more cautious, telling the newspaper that “we will welcome such a development with Russia in the framework of political balance with Turkey, if it happens.”
He added: “Such a development would be a very important step for the ‘TRNC’, this is how recognition begins, the important thing being economic movement.”
He blamed the lack of direct flights on the objections of Greek Cypriots.
“Russia, for its own reasons, has withdrawn this objection, saying that if a private company wants to fly from Moscow directly to Ercan, there is no problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, ‘TRNC’ transport minister Erhan Arikli talking to Yeni Duzen about the report said that “we are examining the application, talks are ongoing” referring to a request by a private company to make a flight to the occupied north on November 15.
“There are some official initiatives toward that direction, but it is too early for a comment, efforts are ongoing,” he said.
Moreover, he said that there is nothing that can prevent the opening of the new airport in Tymbou, referring to the new terminal and runway extension.
He also added that they aim at the first flight from the airport to be made by their own ‘state’ airline either on November 15 or November 29.
“If the Russian plane does not land, then our own plane will,” he concluded.
“Russia’s embassy has never held any kind of talks on this issue. We have not taken any steps in this direction. This issue was not discussed with either side through the embassies. Russia’s position on the settlement of the Cyprus problem has not changed,” the embassy spokesperson said.
Russian diplomatic sources in Moscow earlier described the relevant reports as “fabrications of the Turkish press”.
Responding to the reports, deputy government spokesperson Niovi Parissinou told Cyprus Mail: “The only thing I can say right now is that there is no official update concerning the matter. When there is something official it will be dealt with accordingly. The ministry of foreign affairs and other competent authorities are monitoring developments as well.”