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Govt Baffled by Demands for Bulgarian School in Northern Cyprus October 11, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria, Kibris.
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Bulgaria: Govt Baffled by Demands for Bulgarian School in Northern Cyprus
Bulgarian Diaspora Minister Dimitrov has boasted a doubling of the number of the Bulgarian schools abroad.

Bulgaria’s government is currently perplexed as to how to go about the opening of a Bulgarian school in the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

This has been announced by Diaspora Minister Bozhidar Dimitrov, who spoke at a public discussion in Sofia organized by the “PR Thursday” club of M3 College where he was the special guest.

“We have been really surprised to find out that there are about 9 000-10 000 Bulgarian expats of ethnic Turkish origin residing in Northern Cyprus, who have asked for the opening of a Bulgarian school so that their kids can attend it,” Dimitrov said.

He explained that the expats in question are from those Bulgarian Turks who left Bulgaria in the late 1980s fleeing from the so called “Revival” or “Regeneration Process”, an assimilation campaign of the Bulgarian communist regime forcing Muslims, Bulgarians and Turks alike, to adopt Slavic-Christian names. Estimates say some 200 000-300 000 Bulgarian Turks and Muslims left the country then even though about half are believed to have come back after the regime collapsed in 1989.

“What is particularly bewildering for us in this case is the fact that Bulgaria has not recognized the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and therefore the Bulgarian government has no way of sponsoring a Bulgarian school there. If we open a Bulgarian school there, this will mean the recognition of this quasi-state. So we are stuck at the moment. But we will definitely find some form under which we can do it, in one way or another,” Dimitrov said.

He pointed out that a similar community of expat Bulgarian Turks living in Turkey’s Edirne, right to the southeast of the Bulgarian border had asked the Bulgarian government for a Bulgarian school, which is currently attended by 53 children.

The Diaspora Minister boasted an increase of the Bulgarian schools abroad to 136 since he took office a year ago, up from about 50.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1983 and has been recognized only by Turkey.


Why northern Cyprus is no longer a haven for fugitives August 2, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey.
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Why northern Cyprus is no longer a haven for fugitives

Kyrenia harbour Fugitives are not welcome in Kyrenia

A judge has agreed to give bail to fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir in a bid to end the “legal limbo” which has prevented him facing trial in the UK for fraud. In 1993 Mr Nadir fled to northern Cyprus. But why did it become a “haven for criminals” and why is it no more?

First a history lesson.

In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus after a coup brought to power a group of extreme Greek nationalists bent on “enosis” (union) with Greece, then ruled by a fascist junta.

The Turkish Cypriot minority feared they were going to be wiped out and were delighted when Turkish troops arrived.

Turkey eventually occupied almost a third of the island and its troops have stayed ever since, as various initiatives to solve the island’s political problems have come and gone.

In 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded, with Rauf Denktash as its president, a post he held until his retirement in 2005.

A little boy holds a Turkish flag in Cyprus Turkey knows the Cyprus dispute is standing in the way of its EU accession

But the TRNC is recognised only by Turkey and remains in diplomatic and economic isolation.

The TRNC sees the Green Line – patrolled by United Nations troops – as its southern border but the Republic of Cyprus does not recognise it as a border and most Greek Cypriots refuse to cross it because they refuse to show their passports.

The TRNC contains the northern third of the island, including the Karpas peninsula – the panhandle that sticks out into the Mediterranean – and the Kokkina enclave.

In 1993 Asil Nadir, a Turkish Cypriot, fled to the TRNC on board a private plane as the Serious Fraud Office prepared to arrest him in connection with an alleged £34m fraud at his Polly Peck company, which had just collapsed.

Mr Nadir, who was born on the island, has remained there ever since, gaining a TRNC passport and building up a new media business, the Kibris Group (after the Turkish name for the island).

Asil Nadir Asil Nadir, seen at his home in northern Cyprus, could soon be back in Britain

But Mr Nadir is not the only fugitive from British justice who made a beeline for northern Cyprus. It gained a reputation as a “haven for criminals”.

For many years criminals hid in Spain, on the so-called Costa del Crime, but in 1985 an extradition treaty was signed with Britain and a number of crooks ended up back in Britain.

Villains began to look further afield and soon spotted northern Cyprus’s potential as a sanctuary, following the publicity surrounding Asil Nadir.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s a number of criminals holed up there, including drug smuggler Brian “The Milkman” Wright.

But in the last five or 10 years there has been a sea-change in Turkish Cypriot attitudes towards Britain and the West.

The Turkish Cypriots, supported by Turkey, have been pushing for a resolution of the island’s political problems, particularly as Turkey’s chances of joining the EU are linked to the island’s future.

Brian Wright at his home in Chelsea Harbour Brian Wright, who hid in northern Cyprus for several years, is now in jail

The TRNC offered to sign an extradition treaty with the UK but the British government refused, because it does not have diplomatic relations with the TRNC and did not want to offend Cyprus or Greece.

Nevertheless, the police in northern Cyprus have made it clear that criminals are not welcome and they have been working closely with British police.

A TRNC government spokesman said: “The TRNC government will co-operate with British police where a criminal has fled to the TRNC trying to evade justice and where there is a valid extradition warrant.”

In 2007 drug dealer Miran Thakrar fled to northern Cyprus after he and his brother committed a triple killing in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.

The police not only detained him and escorted him back to Britain but also sent over officers to testify at his trial. Thakrar was later jailed for life.

The Turkish Cypriot police have also been assisting British police searching for Keith Lupton, who was thought to have gone to northern Cyprus to launder money from the Securitas robbery in Kent.

The TRNC government said on Friday it would not comment on the Asil Nadir case as it was a “private matter”.

But a spokesman did say: “There is no extradition treaty between the UK and the TRNC but the TRNC government will co-operate with British police where a criminal has fled to the TRNC trying to evade justice and where there is a valid extradition warrant.”

Jennifer Lopez criticised over Cyprus gig July 21, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, KKTC.
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Greek Cypriots angry at invitation to attend the inauguration of a hotel in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus

Jennifer Lopez Jennifer Lopez – Greek Cypriots want her to cancel planned gig in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty ImagesSinger Jennifer Lopez may have given it little thought when she accepted a seemingly innocuous invitation to celebrate her 41st birthday in northern Cyprus.

The deal: a sun-soaked stay en famille at a $220m destination described as the “single biggest hotel project both sides of the island” in exchange for a one-off performance to celebrate its opening.

But on the Island of Love, where memories of war are never far removed, the star appears to have walked into a political minefield. Instead of eliciting hot anticipation, the visit has ignited the sort of controversy that no celebrity needs.

Cyprus was invaded in 1974 by Turkish troops in response to an attempted coup by the Greek junta in Athens, and has been divided between Greeks in the south and Turks in the north ever since. It remains one of the world’s most intractable disputes, where almost every action is seen through a political lens.

A web campaign led by indignant Greek Cypriots to convince Lopez to change her mind has attracted thousands of signatories angry that she should even consider performing in territory that is not officially recognised by the United Nations.

“It is with dismay and shock that the people of Cyprus and especially the Greek Cypriot women in the Republic of Cyprus and elsewhere in the world heard the news that you intend to attend the inauguration of a hotel in the occupied by Turkey [sic] part of our native country,” says a letter that forms the basis of the campaign.

The missive, carried on the Cyprus Action Network of America, argues that nearly four decades after the island was “barbarically invaded” it would be morally unconscionable for the artist to visit.

To add insult to injury, campaigners say the hotel in Kyrenia will open on 20 July, exactly 36 years since Turkish paratroopers were dropped onto the island’s central plain.

“The Turks go to a great length to secure support from people like you in order to promote their political ambitions and objectives. Does your charitable work and status permit you to give credibility to Turkish rapists, thieves, invaders, occupiers of our stolen properties,” the letter asks.

Despite the furore, the five-star Cratos Premium insists the event will go ahead, promising a “very special birthday party … full of surprises for Jennifer Lopez”.

But opposition is mounting. An estimated 7,000 people have signed up to a Facebook campaign – and it shows no sign of letting up.

J. Lo cancels KKTC gig under Greek Cypriot pressure July 11, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, KKTC.
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Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony. Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony.

Latin pop star Jennifer Lopez has canceled a planned performance in northern Cyprus after whipping up a storm of angry protests from thousands of Greek Cypriots.

Lopez’s gig at a luxury hotel had triggered protests among Greeks, who accused her of according legitimacy to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), which does not have international recognition and has been barred from interaction with rest of the world for decades. The Greek Cypriots hailed Lopez’s turnabout as “a victory” while the Turkish Cypriots called it the success of a Greek Cypriot campaign to keep them isolated.

Reports that Lopez would perform at a luxury hotel in the north on her 41st birthday later this month triggered a Greek Cypriot online campaign pushing for the event’s cancellation. The campaign paid off after Lopez announced her withdrawal with a snub to Turkey. “Jennifer Lopez would never knowingly support any state, country, institution or regime that was associated with any form of human rights abuse,” a statement on her website said.

The official statement said after a full review of the relevant circumstances in the ethnically split island, it was the decision of the Latina star’s advisors to cancel the appearance. “This was a team decision that reflects our sensitivity to the political realities of the region,” it said.

Lopez was reportedly to be paid $3 million by organizers for her one-off performance. Lopez, her husband singer Marc Anthony and their twin children were due to stay at the swanky newly built $220 million Cratos Premium Hotel in KKTC. She was slated to perform there on July 24.

Murat Bozoğlu, a director of the hotel, had earlier said that the Premium Gala night would be broadcast live to 193 countries in the world by Fashion TV and that this significant tourism event was not only important for the promotion of Turkish Cyprus but also for the whole island.

Organizers of the event had this week acknowledged Lopez’s publicists were getting thousands of letters of protest, but that the show would go on. A Facebook site against the concert attracted almost 20,000 members within a week.

Cyprus was split after a Turkish intervention that followed a Greek Cypriot coup engineered by the military junta ruling Greece in 1974. The internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government, which runs the southern part of Cyprus, accuses Turkey of holding Greek Cypriot land under occupation.

Turkish Cypriots in the north, on the other hand, accuse the Greek Cypriots of persistently blocking efforts to lift their international isolation even after they voted for a plan to reunite the island in 2004, a plan rejected by the Greek Cypriots.

Visitors to northern Cyprus set for lap of luxury July 11, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus.
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Largely unnoticed until recently, vast sums of money have been transferred to northern Cyprus from other countries, including Turkey, that are attracted by the general lack of few high-quality tourism facilities and a mega potential for tourism growth. Although the territory remains internationally unrecognized, construction on new resorts is set to continue

If ever there was a place that should be attracting tourists, northern Cyprus is just such a place. Sandy beaches, quiet coves, a slow pace of life, fresh food and friendly people – the perfect place to rest, walk and breathe clean air.

How has this select area so often described as a part of heaven escaped the overbuilding and overrun of tourists?

It escaped because the Turkish military intervened in 1974 to stop the fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and to prevent the annexation of the entire island to mainland Greece. The Turkish military is still there because of the inability of the two sides to reach a comprehensive agreement under which the two communities can live together. Any proposal put forward by the Turkish Cypriots is automatically rejected by the Greek Cypriots while proposals suggested by third parties are usually rejected by one or even both sides. The problem, now 36 years old, continues in spite of the cheerfully optimistic chirping of the current political leaders on both sides.

The Cyprus issue has not recently been making the bold headlines it made when Rauf R. Denktaş was president of northern Cyprus between 1983 and 2005. His successors have maintained a lower profile and yet have not enjoyed any more success than Denktaş did.

The Greeks and Greek Cypriots called for and received an embargo on doing business with northern Cyprus. The embargo included restrictions on buying and selling goods and on foreign investment, and it prevents airlines from flying directly to northern Cyprus without touching down in Turkey, the only country to recognized the northern part of the island as an independent country. A number of years ago members of a delegation from Greece, which included a prominent businessman from Greek Cyprus, met with their counterparts in Istanbul.

When the Greeks were asked when the embargo against north Cyprus would be lifted, it was breathtaking to hear them reply there was no embargo. To this day, there is an embargo on northern Cyprus, although it no longer stops foreign companies from setting up shop there.

This was not the case many years ago when the island was still united. Can Aziz Kent, for instance, began to build a hotel on Turkish property in 1971 on the northern shore of the island.

The difficulties he faced in getting permission and the obstacles thrown his way never stopped him from completing the erection of the Celebrity Hotel; they just extended the amount of time it took. As late as 2005, there was a threat to take him to court on the basis of his having built his hotel on Greek Cypriot land although he could prove the contrary.

Only in the past couple of years have Greek Cypriots achieved any success in claiming compensation for property they owned prior to 1974. However, at that time, they owned just over 58 percent of the land in the north, which leaves quite a large amount available for development, even with a mountain range that traverses the length of the island.

Nonetheless, the prospect of property ownership issues have thrown something of a scare to individuals who have purchased homes there in spite of Turkish Cypriot government assurances to the contrary. The many properties and lands for development are no longer snapped up with great eagerness.

But, rather unnoticed until recently, some large amounts of money have been transferred to northern Cyprus from places, including Turkey, that have been attracted by the low number of high-quality tourism facilities and its mega potential for tourism growth.

Later, the Mercure and the Kaya Holding Foundation appeared on the scene, constructing the Kaya Artemis and the Mercure Hotel, Casino and Wellness Resort. In addition, the Malpas Hotel and some boutiques such as the Abbey Inn and the Residence and Bellapais Gardens now exist.

The island can now boast of several quality tourism properties, which did not exist even just five years ago. The Mercure Hotel Kyrenia and the Kaya Artemis have several hundred rooms and facilities only matched in such places as Dubai. The Kaya Artemis has an impressive 726 luxurious rooms, a 3,000-square-meter Las Vegas-style casino, a full-on shopping center, multiple indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa, beauty parlors, a business center and conference rooms.

The Mercure has 299 rooms, including 18 suites. It also has three restaurants and four bars, shops, a spa, a life and fitness center, a sauna, a jacuzzi, a Turkish bath, a steam room, a heated indoor swimming pool, an outdoor swimming pool, a children’s pool and its magnificent ballroom.

The popularity of Çatalköy

Visitors to Çatalköy, about 10 kilometers from Kyrenia, feel as though they have stepped back in time and have found a perfect Mediterranean village, with its quaint and pretty village square, whitewashed buildings, local convenience shops, restaurants and coffee bars. Çatalköy is a very popular place for visitors to the north of the island. It is a beautiful, traditional Cypriot village with wonderful Mediterranean and mountain views. It is about to be the location of two five-star hotels.

The Malpas Hotel and Casino in Çatalköy offers 174 rooms and suites, restaurants, pools, a leisure center and gym, a wellness center and a shopping arcade among other amenities.

The latest five-star hotel has yet to open. Its opening was being reserved for July 24, when the Cratos Premium was supposed to stage a birthday party for world-famous actress and singer Jennifer Lopez. The singer, however, succumbed to Greek Cypriot pressure to cancel the concert and will now no longer appear at the hotel.

The Boz Group, founded in 1964 in the building sector, has made an ambitious investment of $220 million to produce the Malpas Hotel and Casino, which combines the magical world of Las Vegas, the good taste of Paris, the irresistible entertainment of Ibiza and the quiet of Bali all under the same roof. Cratos Premium is also the largest tourism investment on the whole island.

Cratos Premium aims to offer the best service, best restaurants, best bars, best beach club, best disco, best taverns, best pubs, best jazz club, best Far East, Spanish, Italian, kebab and fish restaurants, best steak house, best beach snack, best entertainment, best spa and best casino experiences for its guests. The 200,000-square-meter Cratos Premium is one of the biggest hotels in Kyrenia, the tourism capital of northern Cyprus.

Guests of Cratos Premium will also have a chance to shop in elegant stores such as Vakko, Cengiz Abazoğlu, Damas, Akay Optical, Memduh Erdal, Pondi Cherry, Cratos Mall, Fred Perry and Taka.

Patisseri in Cratos Premium presents elegant brands such as Lindt, Hacıbekir and Häagen-Dazs, while there is a Fish & Caviar House in Cratos Premium as well. Visitors can also enjoy some relaxation with delicious beverages at the Italian Cafe Sega Fredo and the North Shield Pub.

The casino at Cratos Premium Hotel will further be the first choice for fans of games of chance. Cratos Premium’s Casino has been equipped with many new machines that do not even exist yet in Las Vegas. For maximum play-fun, all machines are connected to one jackpot and $1 million worth of special chips have been prepared.

Port Cratos is on the beach side of the hotel, the biggest beach club in northern Cyprus. Its historical architecture will create a Mediterranean village atmosphere on the northern part of the island, while Port Cratos will be the center of several kinds of elegant restaurants, bars and discos. Urban Bug Underground Bar, Q Jazz, Golden Cage, Ganita Taberna, VIP Club, Günaydın Steak House, Big Chef Restaurant and Mey Fish Restaurant are some of them.

As one person who is involved in tourism in northern Cyprus has said, “Basically, if you want extreme luxury and true five-star sumptuousness, northern Cyprus sets new standards for luxury holidays that have to be experienced to be believed.”