The relations between Cyprus and Israel will flourish even more, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who arrived Thursday on the island ahead of a tripartite meeting between Cyprus, Israel and Greece said, also noting that Cyprus is a safe place for Israelis.
Cohen was received by President Christodoulides and later had consultations with his counterpart Constantinos Kombos and reaffirmed the strong bilateral relationship and the mutual friendship.
Kombos in his statements said that they explored ways to strengthen the strategic cooperation between the two countries. On the agenda was also the Cyprus issue, the Mideast peace issues and the EU-Israel relations.
Cohen certain that ties will flourish even more
In statements after a meeting with Cyprus FM, Cohen expressed his confidence that under the new administration by President Nikos Christodoulides the relations between the two countries will continue to flourish even more than ever.
He said that Cyprus is the closest island to Israel and one of the top tourist attractions adding that 300,00 tourists visited the island last year and more than 55 weekly flights from Israel to Cyprus are expected in the nearest tourist season.
He said that he expressed to Minister Kombos his appreciation for the great bilateral relations and close strategic cooperation, noting that the two countries are working on a daily basis and at all levels to make our ties stronger.
Cohen said that Israel’s principled position on the Cyprus problem remains the same, adding that they support the negotiations process for a just, comprehensive and viable solution in line with the agreed framework. He hoped that the President’s recent initiative to resume the negotiations will be successful in regenerating momentum to the process.
He also thanked Cyprus for its support to Israel in all international fora.
The Israeli FM also said that he discussed with his counterpart the mutual challenges and ways in which we can cooperate to find solutions together especially on the energy prospect.
He said they agreed on the importance of energy collaboration for the benefit of the stability in our region and also on way to work together to strengthen bilateral economic relations in energy technology and more other fields.
Cohen said they also spoke of the recent terrorist plot in Greece saying that a terrorist was sent by Iranian regime to harm Israeli tourists and Greek Jewish citizens. He noted that the fingertip of Iranian state terrorist can be seen in Europe pointing out that the Iranian regime is no longer just a regional problem, but European and global.
According to Cohen, Iran cannot be trusted, whether we are talking about Iranian nuclear activities or its aggressive actions in Europe and added that the only way to put a stop to the Iranian nuclear race is through diplomatic and economic pressure. The international community cannot ever accept a nuclear Iran, he said.
He also noted that the intelligence agencies of Cyprus and Israel will continue to work together in order to prevent any terror attack, adding that “definitely Cyprus is a safe place for our tourism and for our people”. He also said that as Passover starts, more tourists will visit Cyprus and its beautiful places.
About tomorrow’s trilateral meeting and the 3+1 mechanism with US he said that he will speak with US secretary Blinken to ask for a date for a new 3+1 meeting.
Cohen said Israel fully supports this mechanism in order to promote the regional cooperation and stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
Kombos says cooperation is deep and wide
In his statements the Cyprus FM said that their strategic cooperation extends beyond the bilateral level, to the trilateral with Greece and they agreed on our commitment to expand this partnership.
He said that they also agreed that they should advance the opportunities and prospects of a reliable energy corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean basin to Europe adding that this must be seen in the light particularly of the unprovoked Russian aggression in Ukraine and the need for energy diversification and increased interconnectivity.
He noted that with his Israeli counterpart they acknowledged that our wider region is changing, as the unleashing dynamic of the normalization Accords and the Negev Forum showed pointing out that cooperation to understand springing out of diplomacy and rules-based regional multilateralism, is the wise way forward.
Kombos expressed to Cohen “Cyprus’ deepest condolences for the recent terrorist attacks in Israel and our condemnation of such horrific acts of terror as well as any action targeting innocent civilians”.
He said that especially ahead of the religious holidays of Passover, Ramadan and Easter, he “relayed our concern about the increase of violence, and underscored the importance of de-escalation, and of safeguarding the historic status quo in the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, including in the Christian Orthodox places of worship”.
Kombos noted that Cyprus is a strong advocate of the positive agenda of the EU–Israel partnership, as well as of sincere dialogue on key issues, on which EU and Israel do not necessarily see eye-to-eye.
He said he reaffirmed Cyprus’ readiness as a close friend and partner, to advocate in creating a political horizon that would allow the resumption of direct and meaningful negotiations with the Palestinian side, resulting in a viable two-state solution in line with internationally agreed parameters. This, he noted, must fully ensure the security of the State of Israel. This is not, and cannot be negotiable.
As regards the Cyprus issue he expressed appreciation for Israel’s principled support and reiterated Cyprus’ long-standing position, which is that relations between sovereign states are not a zero-sum affair.
He said that the bilateral partnership is based on solid ground and not vulnerable to the influence of external factors of political expediency.
Kombos said that it is our consistent viewpoint that, once Turkey lifts the impediments to solving the Cyprus Issue in line with the agreed framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, we can - and we will - develop good neighborly relations thus benefitting regional stability and security.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.