South Cyprus continues to prevent non-EU visitors to Cyprus entering the country, if they intend to stay in the TRNC at a property owned by a Greek Cypriot.
Attorney General Costas Clerides, two months ago, issued an opinion suggesting that the policy is legally on very shaky ground. Something which has been kept hidden from the public, according to Greek Cypriot daily ‘Cyprus Mail’.
There is no legal basis for preventing entry into South Cyprus because a tourist intends to stay in the North in a Greek Cypriot property Clerides has said. There is no specific law in the constitution that prevents entry to foreign nationals providing they have an EU passport or a visa and intend to visit for peaceful purposes. So the edict has no legal teeth, in the AG’s opinion.
In June, around 35 Israeli tourists were denied entry at Larnaca airport because of the directive issued by the foreign ministry. After contacting their embassy, they were permitted to enter the country and cross over to stay in the North. However, on the same day, 15 Lebanese were obliged to return home, after they said they intended to stay in the TRNC.
Immigration officers in the south have a list of hotels which belonged to Greek Cypriots before 1974. Should any tourist from a third country declare that they intend to stay in one of the places on the list, they are refused entry into Cyprus.
There is another contradiction in that EU tourists are supposed to be bound by the same ruling, however, they are not asked by immigration where they plan to stay.
Additionally, anyone asked where they intend to stay when they arrive in the South can simply say that they are going to stay in the South. The immigration officers have no way of verify their statement.
Clerides also points out that any ruling on immigration should come from the interior ministry and that this ruling was issued by the foreign office
He notes that no foreign traveller who makes it to the border is asked where they intend to stay, this indicates that this is not a Green Line ruling and the directive was only issued in June.
To prevent confusion, Clerides says it would be advisable for the embassies of the Republic to inform non-EU nationals applying for a visa “that the process cannot be completed and that entry into Cyprus shall not be permitted in the event they declare they will stay in premises in the north belonging to a Greek Cypriot owner.
“This will serve to avoid further inconvenience [to tourists] and avert legal action claiming damages in the event of barring entry during passport control at the airport.”
And on the status of EU nationals, the AG is clear: “It is not permitted to take other measures beyond informing them [of the policy] upon their entry into the Republic.”