Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Talat has been forced to cancel his trip to Australia this month, following advice from the Australian Government’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Mr Talat was due to visit Melbourne and Sydney in order to take part in two public forums at the invitation of the sponsoring organisation for his visit – The Australian Peace Initiative for Cyprus – a bi-communal organisation that encourages dialogue on the Cyprus situation. In a statement provided to the sponsoring body, DFAT explained that “the Australian Government does not recognise the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. In giving effect to this policy the DIAC instructions on this matter are quite explicit, we are unable to evidence a visa in a Turkish passport which asserts the legitimacy of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.” The correspondence from DFAT went on to say: “If Mr Talat is able to provide a travel document which meets Australian requirements we would be very happy to receive his visa application.” The DFAT statement added that the Australian High Commission in Nicosia, “has emphasised our response is to the information in the [travel] document, and in no way reflects on Mr Talat or his commitment over many years to seeking a just and lasting settlement on the Cyprus issue.” A spokesman for the Australian Peace Initiative for Cyprus, Mr Tumer Mimi, told Neos Kosmos he was, “more than disappointed with the Australian Government’s position,” and that in his view, “major questions need answering.” “As Mr Talat had confirmed to me, in recent years ministers and TRNC MPs had visited Australia with similar passports,” said Mr Mimi. “Australian officials had known for a long time that Mr Talat accepted the invitation to visit, and would be travelling with a similar passport to all the other TRNC officials who have visited Australia.” “My expectation is that the Australian Government sees where they have been inconsistent and acknowledge the impact it has on the integrity and the clarity of their policies, and the impact it has on the people and the peace movement. We would like to think that such acknowledgement will open up new opportunities for Australia and the peace movement, and all concerned.” Dr Michalis Michael, Deputy Director of the Centre for Dialogue at Melbourne’s La Trobe University was scheduled to chair the ‘Conversation with Talat’ event in Melbourne on November 10. “We were informed by his Australian sponsors that Mr Talat’s visit was cancelled, and we are disappointed,” said Dr Michael. Mr Talat’s visit would have coincided with the 28th anniversary of the formation on November 15 1983, of the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.
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