Heidi Trautmann

Equal rights for Turkish Cypriot Tourist Busses

By Heidi Trautmann


Mr. Şevket Ustürk, the owner of Göçmen Bus Services is proud of his bus transport company in the service of tourism for 35 years. He had his first bus company started in 1951 in a village in the district of Limassol and shortly after the war he started a new transport company in Famagusta and has since then built it up and is in tourism business without failure and complaints.  However, there is an exception…


The tourists coming to Cyprus want to know about the beauty, culture and history of the island of Cyprus, not only of the part in which their hotel is situated but they want to get a complete picture. A tourist who books his holiday in his hometown is usually not aware of the details of the Cyprus problems between the two Cyprus brother states, and they cannot imagine how far the rivalry can go.  It is like in a family, when visitors come, the quarrels should be locked away and the law of hospitality should reign. The feud should not be carried out on the back of the guests.


European tourists travelling by Greek bus services for a day to visit the treasures of the North part do not encounter any problems when crossing the border to the North, a North Cypriot guide mounts the bus but has to keep silent; here the laws of hospitality are observed. On the other hand when a Turkish Cypriot bus service takes European tourists over the border, the bus is not allowed to pass to the South side for even day excursions.


So it happened the other day when a European tourist group of 17 were crossing the border at Metehan crossing but were stopped by the Greek Cypriot control and kept waiting in a side track for over an hour while the matter was discussed, several authorities of the Greek Cypriot government were contacted in order to only confirm that the bus was not to continue with the people on board; they would be allowed to walk or hire a taxi or another local bus but with the Turkish Cypriot bus….a strict NO. The owner of Göçmen had for years been fulfilling all duties and done all payments, such as ensuring that his drivers had the proper drivers licence, that all documents and insurances were in order and paid. The contradiction in the whole affair is that the same bus is allowed to cross the border with Turkish Cypriot people on board!

Europeans may walk over, drive over in a car but are not allowed in as part of a tourist group while the same thing is allowed for European tourists coming from the other direction…and this at a time of new talks to find a peaceful solution for the country.

The tourist group who had witnessed this treatment was only one in a series of similar experiences and this does not promote the very sensitive phenomenon of tourism, especially with regard to the fact that as a European member equality of rights should be regarded as prerequisite.

The owner of Göçmen Bus Services and a representative of the Turkish Cypriot Authorities have been guests on board of the bus and their efforts to come to an understanding with the border officials had shown no effect. The matter was duly recorded and a report has been handed over to EU authorities without delay.


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