A recent denial of entry to Israeli nationals at Larnaca airport has caused uproar in the north, with Turkish Cypriot officials accusing the Republic of Cyprus of blocking travelers without basis.
According to sources, a group of eight Israelis were denied entry at Larnaca International Airport on Sunday. The travelers reportedly had told immigration officials in the south that they planned to cross a checkpoint and stay in the northern part of Cyprus.
The visitors arrived from Tel Aviv on December 30 and planned to cross into the north and check into a hotel in Kyrenia. But migration offices of the Republic of Cyprus denied them entry, citing specific guidance issued by the Foreign Ministry. The visitors then boarded a Tel Aviv-bound flight later in the evening.
Knews understands that officials often cite a list of properties in the north, where hotels have been built on land originally owned by Greek Cypriots, as grounds for probable cause in denying admission.
Turkish Cypriots: 'this behavior is unacceptable'
An official statement by Turkish Cypriot officials expressed “sadness” over the incident, while calling the entry denial as an “arbitrary” and “illegal” act.
“This behavior is unacceptable and it is the product of a mindset attempting to prevent our interaction with the world,” the statement said.
Airport customs officers in the Republic of Cyprus drew criticism over recent months and years, where foreign nationals were prevented and even turned away on the basis they might violate laws by crossing into the north.
In many cases, no written explanation had been given but sources said travelers were typically advised to go back on the next flight in order to avoid breaking the law.
Sources told Knews that it is not unusual that sometimes travelers will be denied entry on any number of reasons.
Last November, a Russian national said she was detained and harassed at Larnaca airport by customs officials before being sent back on the next available flight. A foreign ministry official told Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that authorities were looking into the alleged incident.