In Egypt the Cypriot ambassador was preparing to leave for home on Thursday (23 February) after the Egyptian government had withdrawn diplomatic relations with the island.
In Egypt the Cypriot ambassador was preparing to leave for home on Thursday (23 February) after the Egyptian government had withdrawn diplomatic relations with the island. The break followed the ill-fated Egyptian commando attack on a hi-jacked plane in Cyprus on February 19th. The attack turned into a shoot-out between the commandos and the Cypriot National Guard and 15 Egyptians died in the shooting. Observers say the cutting of diplomatic links in likely to have the most harmful effects on Cyprus, whose embassy in Cairo has been under heavy guard.
SYNOPSIS: Armed soldiers have been outside the Cypriot embassy since the failure of the Egyptian commando attack. The death of the 15 commandos has aroused much bitterness in Egypt and there have been angry anti-Cypriot demonstrations with calls for revenge.
Only people with the proper documents have been allowed into the embassy which will not close completely when the ambassador leaves. According to reports from Cyprus, a non-diplomatic skeleton staff will stay on to look after the building along with a junior diplomat who will held on rank.
Officially the building will become an annexa of the embassy of any country that agrees to look after Cyprus's affairs. So far none has been mentioned.
According to observers, the breaking of diplomatic relations between the two countries has been most keenly felt by the Cyprus government. In the past is had counted on Egypt as an ally in its diplomatic struggle to solve the problem on the island between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The Egyptians now no longer recognize the Greek-Cypriot leader Mr. Spyros Kyprianou, as President of Cyprus.
Although about to shut down, the Cypriot embassy in Cairo continued to receive official visitors. This one was from Mr Willie Morris, the British ambassador in Cairo. The purpose of Mr. Morris's visit was not revealed to the large numbers of newsmen who had gathered outside.
The Cypriot ambassador himself, Mr Antis Soteriades, has been described as one of the most popular diplomats in Cairo. He had spent 12 years representing his country in Egypt.
Mr. Soteriades was quoted as saying that he was sorry that his job here had to end with such a sad incident.