Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by broadcaster NTV on Thursday as saying that he discussed the start of direct flights from Russia to northern Cyprus with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The breakaway Turkish state on the northern side of the divided island is only recognized by Ankara. Flights from Russia would provide support for the economy there, given the potential tourism income, Erdogan said.
“If direct flights start from Russia to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, we will of course be pleased,” NTV quoted Erdogan as saying.
The rise in tourism would lead to a “serious leap regarding the economy,” he added.
Turkish media reported the Turkish Cypriot transport minister as saying that two Russian airlines were interested in starting flights to the new Ercan Airport, which will be opened on Nov.15.
This comes a day after the Russian Embassy in Nicosia refuted another report in Turkish newspaper Milliyet on direct flights from Russia to Ercan Airport. “Russia’s position on the Cyprus settlement has not changed. Moscow is not conducting negotiations on the opening of direct flights between Russia and northern Cyprus,” an embassy spokesman told RIA Novosti.
Cyprus was split in a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Since then, Cyprus has been run by a Greek Cypriot administration in the south that Ankara does not recognize.[Reuters/Kathimerini]