Cyprus said it received a diplomatic protest from an unnamed Arab Gulf state after tourists were attacked during last week’s anti-migrant protest in the island’s second city, Limassol.
Senior diplomat Kyriakos Kouros posted on the X platform Sunday: “I received a demarche from an ambassador of an Arab country.”
He added: “A number of its citizens, innocent visitors to our country, were among the victims of the incidents in Limassol, one quite seriously.
“They cut short the holidays to leave in a hurry, scared! I doubt they will ever come back.”
The Foreign Ministry permanent secretary posted a picture on X of a group – one in a wheelchair – departing from the airport.
Police arrested 13 people on Friday after protestors injured five foreigners and smashed some foreign-owned shops on the Limassol seafront.
According to witness accounts posted on social media, among those assaulted were a group of visitors from Kuwait.
A Kuwaiti tourist was among those listed as injured during the violence in Limassol.
Kouros said in his time as a veteran diplomat, he never felt so “embarrassed” about an incident in Cyprus.
“We should not have allowed it to develop into something so hideous,” he said.
“And even worse, when they return to their country, I wonder what they will say about us and our culture that we have so loudly promoted all these years as a tourist destination characterised by our timeless kindness, culture and innate hospitality.”
Έγινα δέκτης διαβήματος από πρέσβη αραβικής χώρας χθες. Αριθμός πολιτών του, αθώοι επισκέπτες στην χώρα μας, ήταν ανάμεσα στα θύματα των επεισοδίων στη Λεμεσό, ένας αρκετά σοβαρά. Διέκοψαν τις διακοπές για να αναχωρήσουν εσπευσμένα, έντρομοι! Αμφιβάλλω εάν θα επιστρέψουν ποτέ
— Κυριακός Π. Κούρος (@KourosKyriakos) September 3, 2023
Authorities said that a Vietnamese mother – a post on social media showed her in tears — whose shop was vandalised on Friday will receive state support to repair her property.
Limassol’s 500-strong protest came days after Syrians living in Chlorakas were targeted by hooded attackers in sporadic incidents over two days, leading to 22 arrests.
Anti-migrant sentiment has grown in recent years as the government has highlighted its struggles with tackling irregular migration.
European Union member Cyprus says it is a “front-line country” on the Mediterranean migrant route, struggling to cope with an influx of undocumented migrants and refugees.
The latest EU data shows Cyprus has the highest number of first-time asylum applications relative to population in the 27-member bloc.
Authorities said last week that migrants and refugees comprise an estimated 6% of the island’s population. The EU’s average is approximately 1%.
With almost four million annual visitors, tourism is a key economic driver, contributing around 15% of GDP to the Cypriot economy.