Statement to the Press by H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, on the occasion of the visit to Cyprus by H.E. the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security of the United States, Mr. Chad Wolf
Nicosia, 5 January 2021
Healthy New Year to everyone.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the US Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf.
Your visit attests to how far the Cyprus-US partnership has evolved and progressed over the past few years. It comes at a time of significant developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East – developments that inevitably impact on regional security.
There is no better proof of Cyprus’s role as a reliable partner, as a credible enabler of regional security and stability, than the steady flow of incoming visits we have had from US Officials, including your own presence here today, and amongst others, the recent visit by State Secretary Pompeo. Each one of these visits has added momentum and given rise to new joint action and further cooperation.
We have indeed witnessed remarkable progress in our bilateral cooperation, in areas such as the promotion of regional security, cooperation in the field of defense and security, as well as in the context of other areas such as energy, counter–terrorism and economic cooperation. At the same time, our growing cooperation in the context of the trilateral nexus of regional synergies and the 3+1 format with Greece and Israel is very much worth noting.
It is against this backdrop of expanding cooperation that we have just signed a 5 , with a view to enhancing our capacity to counter common threats and foster stability in the region.
I am pleased to note that the Declaration also reaffirms our shared determination to continue to work towards achieving full visa reciprocity, in line with our common end–goal of improving reciprocal travel, to the benefit of our people to people contacts and business. Indeed, progress achieved in the process for the accession of Cyprus to the US Visa Waiver Program was one of the topics we discussed at length with Chad today, mapping the next steps.
In the course of our discussions, we also had the opportunity to identify ways of further expanding cooperation in security issues, including through training, transfer of know-how and development of infrastructure. Such cooperation will bolster our capacity in Cyprus to counter new threats, including challenges of hybrid nature.
To this end, the establishment of a regional Training Center (CYCLOPS) in Larnaca, for which we held the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday, sends a clear signal as regards the strategic caliber of our partnership.
Within this context, I briefed Chad on our vision for the broader region. A region with a lot of untapped potential that could be harnessed for the benefit and prosperity of all the peoples of the region, with no exception. We have already been hard at work with almost all our neighbours in this direction, on the basis of a strictly positive agenda and we hope that the cooperation networks that have been developed will continue to expand in the coming years to include all countries of the region, provided that they respect and abide by International Law and the principles of good neighbourly relations.
I took the opportunity to also brief Chad on the latest developments on the Cyprus Problem. The support of the United States – a permanent member of the UN Security Council - to our efforts to reunify Cyprus, and to the ongoing initiative of the UN Secretary General for the resumption of negotiations from the point where they were suspended in Crans Montana, is of utmost importance.
In welcoming you once again, I wish to reiterate our firm commitment to keep driving forward the partnership between Cyprus and the US — a partnership that is based on a positive agenda — to the benefit of our peoples and in the interest of security and stability in the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
I thank you for your visit and for our open deliberations and I wish you the very best for 2021. Let’s hope it’s a good one for Cyprus, the US and the whole of humanity.
Photos ©PIO, Stavros Ioannides