The UK government has made clear that it has “no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus.”

The statement comes as an official response to a petition started on the British Parliament’s website by Turkish Cypriots in the UK, asking for the establishment of direct flights to the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.

As of Saturday morning the petition has gathered 12,660 signatures. The rules state that a petition should be considered for debate in Parliament when it reaches 100,000 signatures.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office response adds that “direct flights would breach obligations under international law.”

Like the rest of the international community, the UK does not recognise the self-proclaimed ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ as an independent state. The United Kingdom recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the sovereign authority for the island of Cyprus. As a result, the UK government cannot negotiate an Air Services Agreement with the “administration” in the north of Cyprus.

The British response states that the Republic of Cyprus has not designated any airport in the northern part of Cyprus with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO); as such, no airports in that part of Cyprus are listed by ICAO as open for international traffic.

The UK High Court also ruled in 2009 that allowing direct flights to the Turkish occupied Tympou airport would breach the UK’s international legal obligations. This is because it would fail to respect the Republic of Cyprus’ rights under the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, including to choose which airports to designate as customs airports. This ruling was endorsed by the Court of Appeal in 2010.

The National Federation of Cypriots in the UK welcomed the “clear confirmation” by the UK government on the issue.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.

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