Cypriot diplomats in London owe almost £1m in congestion charges, according to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. In a House of Commons statement outlining the amount owed by all diplomatic missions from February 2003 to December 31, 2014, the Cyprus High Commission had accumulated 7,902 fines amounting to £941,595 (€1.4m). Compared to other diplomatic missions, however, Cyprus was ranked quite low at 26th while the biggest offender was the US embassy owing £9.4m. Deputy High Commission of Cyprus Charalambos Kafkarides explained that congestion charges were considered by diplomats as a form of tax which they are exempt from as outlined in Article 34 of the Vienna Convention. Kafkarides outlined that parking fines were duly paid by the High Commission and specified that this was in no way a sign of bad relations between the two countries. The Foreign Office tries to pressure diplomatic missions to pay the levy by publishing the amounts of unpaid debt every year. Other high offenders included the embassy of Japan in second place with £6.4m, the High Commission of Nigeria and the Russian embassy at £5.3m, the German embassy at £4m and the Indian High Commission at £3.9m.
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