NEU delivers Ottoman slap to Deep Purple concert critics

The Deep Purple concert given on Saturday at NEU and the fact that the band landed at Ercan gave rise to the usual round of histrionics by the administration in the South.

World famous rock band Deep Purple flew into Ercan airport on a chartered aircraft with British Airways (BA) colours last Friday, raising questions as to why BA allowed one of its planes to land at Ercan, ‘Cyprus Mail’ reports.

Since the “breakaway regime in the north” [aka the TRNC]  is only recognised by Turkey, it is considered illegal to enter the island from a port not controlled by the Cyprus government.

However, it appears that the aircraft was not operated by BA, but by Denmark-based SunAir which has had a franchise agreement with BA since 1996 allowing it to fly with BA’s colours.

A statement from BA concerning the aircraft’s landing in Ercan said: “The aircraft is owned and operated by SunAir which is a British Airways franchise. This is a charter flight which is not operating on behalf of British Airways.”

The Greek Cypriot foreign ministry said on Saturday it would investigate whether the plane flew in directly from London since that would be illegal, and that they would also lodge a complaint with SunAir for landing in Tymbou (Ercan).

Meanwhile, the Near East University (NEU) countered Greek Cypriot arguments as to why the band should not perform in the North. With the title ‘Answer to Greek Cypriots with an Ottoman style slap’ – ‘Haber Kibris’ news portal said that the Near East University answered what it called Greek Cypriot’s propaganda claims that Deep Purple would give a concert in lands stolen from Greek Cypriots, with an Ottoman Turkish title deed.

According to the article, they sent the band the Ottoman-era title deed proving the Turkish ownership of the land where the concert would take place.

After objections were raised about the band’s concert in the North, the band’s frontman Ian Gillan issued a statement on his own website in defence of the band’s decision to perform in the North.

He said the group had performed in many troubled regions and they had never been on one side or the other when it comes to performing music, and that the diplomatic and cultural side door was always open for art, entertainment and sport, no matter how frightening and confrontational all the rest of it was.

Despite the South’s attempt to stop the band from performing in the TRNC three weeks ago by contacting Deep Purple’s agency, the concert took place on Saturday at Park Near East in the presence of 35,000 fans, among them Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu.

In April, Eroglu had invited President Nicos Anastasiades to join him in the concert as a confidence building measure.

According to the Turkish Cypriot press, which called the concert “historic and unforgettable”, also present were representatives from eight embassies among them Hungary, Germany, FYROM and Russia, and members of UN peacekeeping force UNFICYP, The papers said many Greek Cypriots also attended.

NEU’s President of the Board of Trustees, İrfan Günsel, gave the band as a gift, some traditional Lefkara embroideries. The concert was organised to celebrate the Near East University’s 25th anniversary.

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