A picture depicting a naked Aphrodite on the new biometric passports being issued by Cyprus has caused a stir, with diplomats raising concern that it could offend some Islamic nations.
According to Phileleftheros newspaper, diplomats were outraged upon seeing the image, claiming the interior ministry should first have consulted with the foreign ministry to iron out any issues regarding foreign policy.
AdvertisementThe ancient goddess is widely accepted as the symbol of the eastern Mediterranean holiday island and is used by its tourism organisation on its "Love Cyprus" advertising campaign abroad.
Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis, whose office is tasked with issuing the passports, dismissed suggestions the new passports would prove offensive abroad.
"There isn't a problem with the passports. They have already been issued and are already in use by the public," he told reporters.
According to local legend, Aphrodite rose from the sea off the island's coast and a naked statue of her can be seen on display at the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia.
The interior ministry's permanent secretary, Lazaros Savvides, said the passports issued since December 13 have not so far created any problems but pledged to look into the issue after the Christmas holidays.