World Bulletin/News Desk
Egyptian ambassador to Cyprus, Menha Mahrous Bakhoum, has appeared in a video swearing at and slapping a police officer at Larnaca airport, claiming she was subject to verbal and physical humiliation by airport security despite her diplomatic standing.
According to the Al Arabiya report, the incident reportedly took place on Saturday. A day later Cyprus Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis officially apologized to the Egyptian ambassador.
Ambassador Bakhoum was at the airport to see off her family and she wanted to escort them beyond the passport control. A female police officer then asked her to remove her boots, but the Egyptian diplomat refused, prompting a dispute.
Ambassador Bakhoum then acted by slapping the police officer, resulting in her being manhandled by a group of male officers. They dragged her to a separate room in a bid to calm tempers.
Efforts to contain the situation, however, failed when ambassador Bakhoum reportedly grabbed the wig of a senior officer in protest at her detention, according to Cyprus Mail.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses publicly and sincerely its regrets and apologies for the treatment of the ambassador, which was not in conformity with the principle of inviolability of the person and respect of diplomatic representatives,” Cyprus Foreign Minister Marcoullis said in a statement.
The EU's airport regulations allow only a few heads of states and governments to pass beyond security checks. Diplomats and evens Cabinet ministers have to go through regular security scrutinies.
In an effort to draw a line under the incident and avoid creating unnecessary friction with a powerful regional neighbour with which Cyprus shares a sea border and estimated underwater gas reserves, the government released an apology to the Egyptian ambassador on Tuesday, according to the Cyprus Mail.
On the instructions of the President, Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis publicly expressed her “regrets and apologies for the treatment of the ambassador, which was not in conformity with the principle of inviolability of the person and respect of diplomatic representatives”.