Remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Nikos Christodoulides at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for CYCLOPS Training Center
Larnaca, 4 January 2021
Mr. Secretary, dear Chad, welcome to Cyprus.
Mr. Gavriel, representing the Honorable Mayor of Larnaca,
We have gathered here today to mark the culmination of a joint effort that has become emblematic of the way in which bilateral cooperation between our two countries, Cyprus and the United States, has grown and deepened over the past few years. It is a positive occasion indeed, coming at the very beginning of a new year, and I very much hope that it will set the tone for things to come in 2021.
The groundbreaking for the construction of CYCLOPS, a Training Facility that will serve Cyprus and the broader region, as well as our cooperation with the US, is an important development — one could even say a watershed — in a number of ways.
First and foremost, it is a prime example of the tangible results that the growing bilateral security relationship between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States is already yielding.
It is a major accomplishment for both sides, and I would therefore like to congratulate Ambassador Garber and her associates in Nicosia and in Washington, as well as our own dedicated team, for bringing this project to fruition. I wish to express our warm appreciation also to the Mayor and the Municipality of Larnaca for their support and cooperation, and especially for their assistance in securing this ideal plot of land.
Today we are entering the final phase of the implementation of this innovative project, for which discussions started soon after the signing of the Statement of Intent on Security Cooperation between our two governments, in the fall of 2018. These discussions culminated in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of CYCLOPS with the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, during his visit to Cyprus in September. Plans were drawn up swiftly after that, whilst at the same time the process was completed to secure the land.
As a result of all these efforts, Chad and I stand here today breaking the ground for construction to begin.
If everything goes well, the premises will be completed within the year. I sincerely hope that by then, with the pandemic hopefully in check, we will be able to have an inauguration ceremony, perhaps also in the presence of more distinguished guests from the United States.
In time, we have high hopes that CYCLOPS will develop into a hub of activity – at a domestic, regional and international level. We are already working with our American friends, to see how we can expand its activities, and within this framework we are already in discussions with the European Security and Defense College, an EU Institution, to see how we could develop synergies in relation to Counter-terrorism training activities. This would be a major development.
At the same time we are putting together a “development team” for CYCLOPS, whose role will be to look into different areas of training that we could expand into. For example, we are looking into the growing field of countering hybrid threats as a promising area for us, as well as at revisiting the countering-radicalization programs that have been developed as part of the Aqaba Process. Already, a few countries have informally indicated an interest in such cooperation.
With these positive thoughts, I would like to conclude by congratulating and thanking everyone who has contributed to making this day a reality.
2020 has been a difficult year for the whole of humanity, like no other in living memory. Let’s hope that the New Year will gradually bring a return to normality and an end to the suffering and disruption caused by the pandemic.
Dear Chad, thank you for being here to break the ground with me today and I wish you personally and the American people, a happy New Year, with good health and prosperity for all.
The floor is yours.
Photos ©PIO, Stavros Ioannides