Der Beitrag „EU – Border crossing – case of the Republic of Cyprus“ wurde im Rahmen des Criminologia Preisausschreibens von Tatjana Vukelic eingereicht. Der Beitrag wurde mit dem ersten Platz ausgezeichnet.
Since Turkey’s invasion of the northern region of the island in 1974, the status of Cyprus is at the centre of an international dispute, yet to be resolved. Despite this, the Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the European Union in 2004.
According to official sources of the Republic of Cyprus, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “The legal ports of entry into the Republic of Cyprus are the airports of Larnaca and Paphos and the ports of Larnaca, Limassol, Latsi and Paphos”. Moreover, “any entry into the territory of the Republic of Cyprus via any other port or airport in the area of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic does not exercise effective control (Turkish occupied area) is illegal.”
On a practical point of view, the situation is very different. In the Turkish occupied northern Cyprus, the airport of Ercan regularly connects the island to Istanbul and other Turkish cities. The airport is not recognized by international aviation institutions such as IATA or ICAO. Nevertheless according to the website of the Ercan airport “Pegasus Airlines, OnurAir and Turkish Airlines, and many foreign airlines make scheduled flights to various parts of Turkey. Scheduled flights to Northern Cyprus are made from Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Adana.” Although the direct flights are only to Turkey, “flights to Northern Cyprus via Turkey can be made from all over the world”. For example, at the time of writing, flights from Hamburg to Nicosia (Ercan airport) can be booked online via the Turkish Airlines website. Besides the fact that the flight makes a stop in Istanbul, no warning is given, that Ercan shall not be considered a legal point of entry for Cyprus: it can be argued, that from the point of view of Turkey, Ercan airport is not considered illegal.
This situation easily leads to complications, at least on a formal point of view. I will now report about the experience of a traveller, which travelled in 2012 to Nicosia via Ercan. This was a natural choice, as the traveller’s previous destination was Istanbul. Booking a flight from Turkish Airlines, as mentioned, did not alert the traveller, that doing so, one breaks the law of the Republic of Cyprus.
Once the flight was booked, the traveller tried to organize a transfer from the airport to the hotel in the Republic of Cyprus. Doing so, the person became aware of the ban. All attempts to get a feedback on the question from official sources such as the mentioned airline, representatives of Northern Cyprus or even from the hotel remained unanswered. Unofficially, everything seems to be much easier. Taxis with a special licence are allowed to bring the passengers to “the other side”. This makes possible, although illegal from the point of view of Southern Cyprus, to enter the Republic of Cyprus via Ercan airport as well. The only advice to follow was the one which is generally recommended on visiting Northern Cyprus: “Under no circumstances must visitors allow their passports to be stamped by the Turkish Cypriot authorities.”  After the immigration formalities in Ercan, the traveller was picked up by the taxi driver outside (the taxi was ordered in advance), so the next step was to cross the checkpoint. The EU-border crossings in other EU countries are usually associated with long queues, strict security measures, etc. Not this one. The taxi driver simply got out of the car and showed the traveller’s passport to the officers on the checkpoint: no one was really interested to see the traveller personally or to know anything about the luggage.
At least formally, there is no weak point for human border crossing, as Cyprus is not a member of the Schengen Treaty, mainly due to its peculiar border situation. Thus a person who enters it via Ercan airport and the checkpoints will not be able to travel to other EU countries without border controls. However the situation is still interesting and peculiar. The luggage of the mentioned traveller entered the Union at the checkpoint, without any formal control from EU officials. The loophole basically allows an unsecured transfer of goods into an EU member country from Turkey. Furthermore an airline which legally operates in EU (Turkish Airlines) legally sells tickets to an airport which is unrecognised, and considered an illegal point of entry from an EU country (the Republic of Cyprus), without even being requested to warn the passengers.