Turkish Cypriot Leader Ersin Tatar on Monday met with taxi drivers in light of a planned clampdown on Turkish Cypriot taxis operating in the Republic.

Those in attendance discussed “possible initiatives and steps that could be taken” in reaction.

The meeting was held at Tatar’s official residence in northern Nicosia, and was attended by various sector representatives, as well as representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, the north’s ‘tourism ministry’, and its traffic department.

Tatar’s special representative Gunes Onar, legal affairs advisor Sulen Karabacak, and confidence building measures and technical committees coordinator Seniha Birand Cinar also sat in on the meeting.

The meeting came after the Republic’s government had announced plans to effectively reduce the burden of proof to fine unlicensed taxi drivers, with Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades explaining to the Cyprus Mail that should the new legislation pass, fines can be levied based off an “evidence-based” system.

Turkish Cypriot drivers, given that their vehicles and licences are registered in the north and not in the Republic, are classed by the Republic as “unlicensed” taxi drivers.

However, they have been able to operate in the Republic by covering the “T” on their registration plate – characteristic of commercial passenger vehicles in the north – and the fact that in the Republic, fines can currently only be levied against unlicensed taxi drivers should their passengers testify.

Vafeades had stressed to the Cyprus Mail that the bill “was not drafted to target Turkish Cypriots, but to deal with all unlicensed taxi drivers on the island,” but Turkish Cypriot taxi drivers had by then already branded the move as “officially racism”.

In response to the move, the north’s ‘transport ministry’ had said “we will take the necessary measures within the principles of reciprocity, according to the steps to be taken by the Greek Cypriot administration.”

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, ‘government’ sources in the north said, “whatever restrictions are made to Turkish Cypriot registered taxis or buses, any public transportation vehicle, the same restrictions will be applied to the Greek Cypriot registered [vehicles in the north].”