The naïve and arrogant way the Biblical and Archaeology Society of America has chosen to organise a “tour in the footsteps of St Paul” has once again exposed the weaknesses and vulnerability of movement across the Green Line, a bizarre status quo that none of our EU and American “friends” want resolved.
The BAS was approached by the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists, as well as Cypriot diplomats in the U.S., to be advised to change their schedule, whereby after their visit to Turkey, the group would need to arrive through a recognised port of entry and not through Tymbou, a.k.a. Ercan. Naturally, the Society based its decisions on the advice received from a travel agent in Turkey and on the vague documentation posted by the State Department on its website which allows great room for interpretation.
What is important here is the moral aspect of the whole situation. On the one hand we have the Republic of Cyprus that wants to be seen to encourage north-south trade and movement, but is not too sure to what length. Then you have the Turkish Cypriots who scream about “isolation” every time they are given a chance, with our diplomatic service unable to counter the claims due to the extensive firepower and cozy alliances Ankara enjoys with its North Atlantic partners.
Perhaps BAS members consider themselves as more Christian than others, in which case it would be easier to ignore the fact that Pope Benedict XVI chose to arrive on the island at the exact point where St. Paul arrived, ie. in Paphos, probably the most important location related to the apostle outside of the Holy Lands and Rome.
Instead of rummaging through the bags of visitors from the Republic who may buy a handful of goods in the north, thus encouraging the economic support given to Turkish Cypriot traders, the Customs officials should start implementing the letter of the law, whereby non-EU nationals cannot enter the Republic if they have arrived on the island via Turkey.
If the Pope could do it, why can’t the Americans?
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