Cyprus facilitates visa issuing to Lebanese citizens due to ME crisis
Nicosia, Jul 14 (CNA) - The government of Cyprus took a political decision today, to start issuing for one week visas at the Cypriot airports, to Lebanese citizens who live in Europe and wish to come to Cyprus to be near their country.
At the same time, an Olympic Airways aircraft will transfer Cypriot citizens who are currently on vacations in Lebanon, back to Cyprus, in the light of the escalating crisis that broke out in the Middle East.
Permanent Secretary of the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sotos Zakheos said that the Ministry is in constant contact with the Foreign Ministry of Greece, which plans to send an Olympic Airways aircraft to Damascus to transport Greek and other European citizens away from Lebanon.
''Our priority today is to bring back Cypriot tourists and children who are currently in Lebanon. We are talking of about 25 to 50 Cypriots,'' he noted.
Regarding the decision on issuing visas, he said that any Lebanese citizens, who are in Europe and wish to come to Cyprus to be closer to their country, can do so, without issuing visas at the embassies of the Republic of Cyprus abroad. Instead, they will secure a visa at the Republic's airports, upon arrival.
Meanwhile, a teleconference took place today among the EU-25, the European Commission and the EU Presidency to discuss a French initiative to evacuate from Lebanon all European citizens who wish to abandon the country.
Zackheos said that the EU-25 have not reached a decision yet, as to how the Europeans will be transferred back to Europe, but reassured that the Republic of Cyprus is willing to give its consent to any EU country that wishes to use its ports or airports for humanitarian reasons.