On Wednesday, US Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, and Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, expressed their wish that the Cyprus Center for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS) will help promote security in the region.
At the inauguration of the CYCLOPS training facility in Larnaca, Nuland said, this “spectacular” Center, was a symbol of the growing and strengthening bilateral security relationship between Cyprus and the United States.
CYCLOPS...it is about an Aegean, it is about an Eastern Med, it is about a region that is one of peace, of security and we are working hard together to restore that, to build on it, to grow it.
CYCLOPS, she said, started as an idea, “a place where the United States and Cyprus could work together to promote regional safety and security by providing training and assistance in border security, in non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in cybersecurity, in maritime security and so much more.”
She said that Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting symbolized both countries’ expanding relations in security cooperation, trade and investment and regional cooperation. In addition, it was also a reflection of common values and principles such as democracy, security, respect for human rights and rule of law, she added.
Nuland underscored that these values are under threat not very far from Cyprus, pointing to Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, saying that “We are all also in that context enormously proud to stand with Cyprus in solidarity with Ukraine, in support of Ukraine and for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peace and security".
The US official said that CYCLOPS “is about peace, it is about an Aegean, is about an Eastern Med, it is about a region that is one of peace, one of security and we are working hard together as partners to restore that, to build on it, to grow it.”
She also said that Cyprus and US would not be “selfish” about CYCLOPS as they want to share this vision of a prosperous and peaceful Mediterranean with other partners in the region, “and we want them to join us in building capacity and spreading knowledge and learning together.”
Nuland said that the Center has already been put to good use, as just last week the US hosted some workshops on sanctions and illicit finance and was joined by the UK in Cyprus in presenting training in disinformation. She also said that the training schedule is already very full, adding that courses have been scheduled on, among other things, maritime law enforcement, dealing with fraudulent documents, and smuggling.
Kasoulides, in his address, said that this state-of-the-art facility “is the crown of our security co-operation.”
Addressing Nuland, he extended the Republic of Cyprus’ “gratitude for the invaluable involvement of the US Government in setting it up.”
“Our aspiration is that the CYCLOPS Training Center in Larnaca becomes a regional Centre of Excellence for specialized training in all security-related fields,” he added.
Referring to the bilateral relations between Cyprus and the US, he said that their recent, momentous upgrading echoes the assessment made in 2014 by then Vice-President Biden who had referred to a "...`genuine strategic partnership`...."
“Over the last eight years, we have seen the transformation of this partnership through tangible action, particularly in our security cooperation. We firmly believe this to be an irreversible process, with further, great potential,” Kasoulides said.
The Minister also said that this ever-expanding relationship clearly enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington, as evidenced by the 2019 Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, which was adopted by Congress.
In both security and energy, he added, “emerging synergies between us can have a catalytic effect for solving a range of pending issues.”
“Combined with the positive agenda underpinning our trilateral mechanisms with like-minded, regional partners, we can look to the future of the region with optimism,” he said.
The Minister also said Nuland’s visit comes at a critical time as the rules and norms of the international system are severely tested by an ongoing war, “which is both illegal and unjustified.” It is imperative, he said, that Russia ceases its invasion of Ukraine and withdraws its forces.
Kasoulides also referred to the Cyprus problem.
He said that an effective security architecture cannot be established in the Eastern Mediterranean without a viable and functional solution to the Cyprus Question.
“The far-reaching Confidence Building Measures which we have recently re-introduced for discussion can kickstart an inclusive, results-oriented process leading to the resumption of negotiations on the Security Council-endorsed basis,” he said.
A solution will, among other things, he added, “further facilitate the role of an anchor of regional stability that we are already carrying out, in close cooperation both within the European Union family as well as with our Middle East neighbors and friends.”
It is, however, he said, “the blossoming cooperation” with the United States, that is swiftly becoming a game-changer in this joint quest for regional stability, security, and prosperity, under win-win conditions. “We are committed to this and look forward to the further deepening and widening of our relations,” he concluded.