“The economic, social and cultural rights of the Turkish Cypriots are in danger” – Ahmad Shahidov spoke of embargoes facing Northern Cyprus at OSCE Warsaw Meeting

On September 20, the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of OSCE participating States, organized by OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) continued its work in Warsaw, Poland. Representatives of OSCE participating States, OSCE institutions, and OSCE executive structures, representatives of inter-governmental organizations, legal professionals, representatives of civil society and researchers from 57 participating States took part in discussions.

Taking an active part in discussion on the topic of “Economic, social and cultural rights as an answer to rising inequalities”, Head of Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights Dr. Ahmad Shahidov spoke about Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Human Rights Defender said that there are two de facto states in the island of Cyprus, some of the economic, social and cultural rights of the Turks living in the island are not recognised and the consequences of the long-term embargo policy are contrary to fundamental human rights: “The island of Cyprus covers a small geography. In the island there are two states that have been one country in 1970 and have been separated later. I do not want to talk about the political aspects of the problem here. I am a human rights defender and I am interested in the rights of people there. Today, a number of fundamental rights of ethnic Turks living in Cyprus are being violated. Turkish athletes in Cyprus can not freely participate in international competitions, Turkish musicians in Cyprus are facing obstacles in demonstrating their talents. Direct flights to the northern part of the island have been blocked. Turkish businessmen in Cyprus can not trade freely. I can keep continuing like this.”

Noting that the Republic of Cyprus does not respect international law and migration agreements, Head of AIDHR Ahmad Shahidov also raised a problem he faced: “Here is a representative of the Republic of Cyprus. Very nice. We all know that the Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union, and it is also part of the Schengen Zone. So, it is possible to visit the country with Schengen visa. But this is not the case for everyone. I want to share my own experience. So, in February 2016, I got a ticket from Warsaw to Larnaca (Cyprus), and after crossing all the border procedures I sat down on the plane. After about four hours, I reached to Larnaca. I was shocked at the sight I faced at the border crossing point of the Republic of Cyprus. When they saw that I am a citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan, armed men took me to a room. They began to act rudely against me. After a while I told that I am a human rights defender and did not violate any international or local laws. They became somewhat calm. Although I have a Schengen visa, they said that Azerbaijani citizens have to come to the Republic of Cyprus with a special Cyprus visa, and they have sent me back to Warsaw again on the same plane. Do you imagine?! I returned to Warsaw again for four hours by the same plane. As a passenger, my rights were violated. It violates the Schengen Agreement, which is a member of the Republic of Cyprus. This process continues today. I am addressing the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus here. I understand your relations with Turkey, but what is your problem with Azerbaijan?! You are talking about tolerance and together living. Is that your tolerance?! If you are united with the Turkish Cypriot community tomorrow, will you show them the same wild attitude?”

PS. The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of OSCE participating States is Europe’s largest annual human rights and democracy conference. It is organized every year by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a platform for the 57 OSCE participating States, the OSCE Partners for Co-operation, OSCE structures, civil society, international organizations and other relevant actors to take stock of the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments, discuss associated challenges, share good practices and make recommendations for further improvement.

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