Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides raised during a visit to Jerusalem the issue of Israeli tourists and investors in the ethnically-split island’s northern part, amid reports that anti-Russian sanctions imposed by Nicosia were having a ripple effect on the local economy.
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According to the Cyprus News Agency, diplomatic sources said Christodoulides broached the subject of Israeli tourists, who have been flying to the island and staying in hotels in the northern part, which is not recognized by any country except Turkey.
In the past, Israel advised its citizens to follow official travel guidance from the Republic of Cyprus after tourists were denied entry after saying they had hotel reservations in the north
Christodoulides, who also served as foreign minister in the previous administration, reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a chummy reunion on Thursday that not only tourists from the host’s country were spending time and money in the north, where displaced Greek Cypriots own land and property, but investment activities were also a point of concern.
CNA reported that Netanyahu gave a “positive response” to Christodoulides in terms of actions that could prevent such activities but gave no specific details.
In the past, the Israeli government issued statements advising their citizens to follow official travel advice from the Republic of Cyprus.
Greek Cypriot airport officials in the south have been sporadically blocking foreign tourists, including Israeli nationals from entering the Republic of Cyprus, with reports saying many incidents took place after travelers told immigration officials that they planned to stay in hotels in the north.
Specific policy guidance for denying entry came from the foreign ministry but often no written explanation was given about the issue.
Knews understands officials often cited 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.
The issue follows recent development where Russian businesses in the south are rumored to be moving to the northern part to avoid sanctions, amid reports that more Cypriot nationals were being added to a new US list of “Russian enablers.”
After assuming office earlier this year, Christodoulides declared his administration would remain steady on a western path.
Cyprus, a UN and EU member state, has been divided for half a century and remains split between a recognized south in the Republic of Cyprus governed by Greek Cypriots and a Turkish Cypriot north not recognized by any country except Turkey.