Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Workshop on Tourism has started in Girne. The workshop will continue between the dates April 28-30. Minister of Foreign Affairs Özdil Nami made a statement at the opening session of the Workshop on Tourism. His statement is as follows:

Mr. Deputy Secretary-General,
Honourable Speakers,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all at this important event, “Workshop on Tourism” organized by the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and jointly hosted by the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

It is indeed an honour for us to host this important ECO activity in our country. I would like to extend our sincere thanks and deep appreciation to H.E. Mr. Shamil Aleskerov, the Secretary-general of the Economic Cooperation Organization and his able staff for the kind contributions and sincere assistance provided to our team during the preparation period of this workshop. I also would like to extend our thanks to our distinguished participants from the brotherly member states of Republic of Turkey, Republic of Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as well as the distinguished participants from our relevant institutions whose knowledge and experience will no doubt make this workshop a great success.

Distinguished guests,

Northern Cyprus has been participating in the Organization’s activities and events since 1992. In 2012, the Turkish Cypriot state was granted observer status and was given the chance to contribute and benefit from improving relations with the member countries. We believe that there is a great potential for cooperation amongst ECO member states, particularly in the fields of trade, tourism and education, and in this respect we expect that the solidarity extended by ECO to the Turkish Cypriot people will be further consolidated in the years to come. North Cyprus has hosted three ECO events in the past. These events include the workshops on “Air and Water Pollution Control” in August 1998, “the Management of the Waste-water and Cleansing Technology” in May 2004, and the “1st ECO University Sport Games” in April 2013.

I am confident that this workshop shall significantly contribute to the development of stronger ties between the member countries and will further strengthen the solidarity and cooperation between the Turkish Cypriot people and the peoples of the brotherly member states of the Economic Cooperation Organization.

Distinguished guests,

The tourism sector in our country offers a lot with our island’s natural beauty, cultural and historical heritage. There are 133 holiday establishments with an overall bed capacity of nearly twenty thousand. In addition to a wide range of accommodation from five star luxury hotels and holiday villages, North Cyprus offers many special interest tourism opportunities, including golfing, diving, historical site visits, trekking and cycling and Eco-tourism.

According to statistics in 2014, nearly 1.5 million tourists came to our country via air and sea ports of Northern Cyprus. Also in 2014, 800 thousand tourists were accommodated in the hotels of our country.

In line with the ECO objectives which put forward tourism as an important area of cooperation to be explored and developed for the benefit of member states, we strongly believe that our country is an ideal holiday destination for our brothers and sisters from ECO member states. We hope to form or further strengthen our already existing ties in fields of tourism in a mutually beneficial manner and to promote tourism between our countries in both ways.

Our country is also emerging as a center of higher education and a prominent holiday destination in the Eastern Mediterranean market.

I am pleased to announce that about 6,000 of our students are from ECO member countries, mostly from Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. It is our primary objective to increase the collaboration and interaction between ECO countries and our universities even further in the coming years.

Mr. Deputy Secretary-general,
Honourable Speakers,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you may all know, still today, the all-embracing isolation continues to be a harsh reality in the daily lives of all Turkish Cypriots, impeding their development in all fields of life. No doubt, the continued isolation imposed upon the Turkish Cypriot people is not only unjustified and unlawful, but also a blatant violation of the United Nations charter. As a matter of fact, the Turkish Cypriots are kept hostage to the Cyprus problem, particularly in view of the fact that they have repeatedly proved their sincerity and commitment for a compromise settlement in Cyprus.

Therefore, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement in the island, we are expecting all member states of ECO to take concrete steps towards ending the isolation of theTurkish Cypriot people. Such a move will also be in line with the statements of the then UN Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, who, in his report to the Security Council dated 28 May 2004 (s/2004/437), called upon the international community to “cooperate both bilaterally and in international bodies to eliminate the unnecessary restrictions and barriers that have the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development, deeming such a move as consistent with Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) (para. 93)”. Furthermore, the current Secretary-general of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban ki-moon stated in his latest report (s/2015/17) on Cyprus that “the removal of restrictions and barriers that impede the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community will promote trust,” and that “such a development will help to address the isolation concerns of the Turkish Cypriots.” The UN Secretary-general also stated in his report that “encouraging trade can only have a positive effect on the objective of reunification.”

Hosting ECO events in the Turkish Cypriot side will no doubt help our people to overcome difficulties endured in all aspects of their lives. I sincerely believe that this workshop, among all, will prove to be an invaluable event in respect of strengthening the solidarity and cooperation between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the brotherly member states.

Mr. Chairman,
Mr. Deputy – secretary General,
Honourable Speakers,
Distinguished Delegates,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Finally, I would like to stress the importance of the negotiation process on the island which will soon resume between the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot sides. As the Turkish Cypriot side, we remain fully committed to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue in the shortest possible time under the UN Secretary General’s mission of good offices and on the basis of the joint statement dated 11 February 2014 which constitutes the framework for a future settlement. Solution of the Cyprus problem, will no doubt, foster our cooperation in tourism with the ECO member countries. 

I welcome you once again and hope that you will all enjoy your stay in our country.

Thank you.”