Lavrov-Anastasiades to meet after north flights report

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President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to meet Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, amid reports that the Russian Federation has greenlighted direct flights to the Turkish occupied north of the island.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish daily Milliyet reported that Russia will start direct flights to the north, with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar celebrating the news as a token of recognition of the breakaway state.

According to the Milliyet report, the first flight will take place on November 15, the anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence of the breakaway state in the north and the day the revamped Tymbou (Ercan) airport will be inaugurated.

Milliyet reported that President Recep Tayyip Erogan will be on the first flight from Russia, who claimed the development as a diplomatic victory for the ‘TRNC’ and Turkey.

Turkey’s President has close ties with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, with the countries’ relations improving following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Turkey’s attempts to act as a mediator between Russia and the West.

The Turkish Cypriot leader told the Turkish newspaper that, “such a development would be a very important step for the ‘TRNC’, this is how recognition begins, the important thing being economic movement.”

Tatar continued to blame the lack of direct flights on an ‘embargo’ imposed by 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“Russia, for its own reasons, has withdrawn this objection, saying that if a private company wants to fly from Moscow directly to Ercan, there is no problem,” he said.

The Turkish Cypriot leader argued that Russia is feeling uneasy with the Republic’s participation in EU sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

No meeting necessary

Meanwhile, in a separate interview to Turkish news agency Anadolu, Tatar said that a tripartite meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and President Nicos Anastasiades on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York at the end of the month, will not be necessary.

He continued that a solution to the Cyprus problem must foresee a sovereign Turkish state in the north of the island.

Tatar said that after his “election” in October 2020 a new policy has been formed in the north and that “an agreement in Cyprus can only be based on equal sovereignty and the cooperation of two states living side by side”.

Government sources told the Financial Mirror that the Republic has chosen to be cautious over the latest news, noting that they have not had any official update on the matter.

As told, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are looking into the report and will be monitoring developments closely and will respond in due time.