Turkish Cypriot businesses will be putting their best foot forward at a special two-day event in central London with the aim of drawing more visitors to the TRNC.
Taking place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, central London, on the 5th and 6th of May, the Festival of North Cyprus will showcase the country’s leading enterprises in multiple sectors, from healthcare to higher education, and property, manufacturing and tourism to name but a few.
The Festival of North Cyprus is the brainchild Zorlu Cezaroğlu, who is also behind North Cyprus UK – a culture and tourism newspaper in Turkish that’s circulated across London each month. The event is backed by the TRNC’s Ministry of Tourism and Environment, with the Minister, Fikri Ataoğlu, expected in Britain for the event’s opening on Friday morning.
While promotion for the event has started late, adverts on London buses and social media campaigns are expected to draw in thousands of visitors to the festival, which is free to attend.
Under the slogan “we are moving the TRNC to London”, dozens of Turkish Cypriot firms will be taking up a presence at the exhibition-cum-festival to promote their products and services direct to Brits, both consumers and entrepreneurs.
Alongside the exhibitors will be Turkish Cypriot folk dancers and TRNC artists playing traditional music, with photos of the country’s gorgeous scenery and landmarks helping to bring the sights and sounds of this corner of the Eastern Mediterranean to the British capital.
Sadly the venue doesn’t permit external caterers, the organisers told us, so there will not be any Turkish Cypriot cuisine available to buy at the exhibition centre. A trip to North London’s Yaşar Halim or Mr Kofte in the South may be needed afterwards…
The festival has drawn the ire of nationalist Greek Cypriots, who in their usual fashion have written to the venue demanding it be cancelled.
In one letter by Christos Karaolis, seen by T-VINE Magazine, the President of the National Federation of [Greek] Cypriots in the UK claims that by hosting the event, “the Business Design Centre, an established and respected exhibition centre, is promoting the illegal occupation of the northern part of Cyprus as well as completely disregarding international law.”
Mr Karaolis adds that, “It is particularly concerning that this is happening in the UK, a country that does not recognise ‘North Cyprus’”, and called on the venue not to proceed with the event because, “we believe the illegal occupations should not be celebrated in any way.”
The Greek Cypriot lobby regularly try to intimidate people and businesses against working with North Cyprus. In April 2007, their campaign to persuade The Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham to cancel a promotional stand booked by the North Cyprus Tourism Office (NCTO) worked.
The decision prompted legal action by NCTO lawyers against the owners of the shopping mall for breach of contract, resulting in an out-of-court settlement. The NCTO demanded compensation for the last-minute cancellation of the event to promote North Cyprus as a holiday and tourist destination, and in 2010 they received an undisclosed substantial six figure sum.
Earlier today, Mr Cezaroğlu told T-VINE that the venue had made him aware of Mr Karaolis’ letter, but there was no prospect of the event being cancelled.
“We are aware some people are unhappy with our event, but the Festival of North Cyprus is definitely going ahead. I invite everyone from the British Turkish and Turkish Cypriot communities to grab their friends and come out and support us next weekend.”
Title: Festival of North Cyprus
Date: Friday 5th and Saturday 6th May 2017
Event times: Friday 9am – 8pm and Saturday 9am – 5pm
Venue address: Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0QH
North Cyprus: 0533 863 5341
UK: +44 7958 352 411