The foreign ministry on Tuesday said efforts were being made to improve the situation after the island’s embassy in Brussels seemingly shut down on the quiet.
Although the embassy’s website carried a notification that it would no longer operate as of December 31, no other announcements seem to have been made.
“An official announcement has been sent to the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs of Belgium as well as to all Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations in Belgium,” the embassy said.
But Cypriot who live there feel let down. “Cypriots in Belgium and Luxembourg are essentially left without consular support,” Brussels based Irene Kyriacou who said she has tried to contact the embassy for a month commented.
Kyriacou said she was not made aware of the changes and that the embassy had ample opportunity to inform them. “They have in the past invited us to events so they know how to reach us,” she said.
She added she was advised by friends to fly to Cyprus to get her birth certificate.
“Financially and organisationally this is not a realistic option for me and I don’t see why it should be. I wonder, how are babies born in Belgium/ Luxemburg to Cypriot parents issued with birth certificates?”
They are currently served by the embassy in The Hague, the embassy’s website announcement said, though to Kyriacou and others living in Belgium this is not acceptable.
“I am caught between a rock and a hard place,” she told the Cyprus Mail. “On the one hand I am in Belgium where bureaucracy asks for a birth certificate that has been issued in the past three months and on the other hand I deal with a country that doesn’t supply that.”
According to a source at the foreign ministry in Nicosia, the embassy, which was housed with the Cyprus permanent representation office in Brussels, was only of limited use anyway.
“They never had any biometric equipment, so when someone needed an ID card or a passport this had to go through other embassies, via Paris, The Hague or London,” the source said.
Plans to improve the situation will see a more junior consular, a chargé d’affaires, appointed in the next few months to replace the ambassador in Brussels.
“This is standard practice for saving money. Unlike an ambassador this person will not need a driver and a house. The ambassador in The Hague will be the non-resident ambassador for Belgium,” the source explained.