Friday, March 18, 2011

Cyprus: Cypriot President: -'Israel Is One of Cyprus' Most Important Strategic Partners'

SOURCE Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus

, March 17, 2011 During his official visit to Israel on March 13-14, President Christofias described Israel as one of Cyprus' "most important strategic partners" while President Shimon Peres spoke of the tremendous scope for cooperation, as "there is a treasure to develop – natural gas." The two countries have recently signed and ratified an agreement on the delimitation of their Exclusive Economic Zones, expected to lead to further co-operation in the field of energy.

During the visit, the President of the Republic of Cyprus met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. The visit, the first official of a Cypriot President in Israel, is proof of the increasing dynamism in bilateral relations.

The two Presidents discussed the possibility of transporting newly discovered natural gas from Israel to Cyprus and from thereon to Europe. The gas would come from the Leviathan field, some 80 miles off the Israeli coast, with estimated reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet. Israel's Delek Group, an Israeli partner in a consortium with U.S.-based Noble Energy has proposed creating a facility in Cyprus to process it into liquefied natural gas. The Houston-based company is also active in Cyprus. It has been granted an Exploration License for a part of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone exploration area where hydrocarbons have also been discovered.

The two leaders hailed the substantial improvements in the Cypriot-Israeli relationship over the recent years. They focused on ways to strengthen it in a strategic manner and specifically focused on the fight against terror. President Peres stated that Cyprus was the first country to declare that it would not cooperate with flotillas to Gaza and in fact takes concrete steps to prevent flotillas from leaving its ports. With regard to this the President of Cyprus said: "Terror activities in Gaza are unacceptable and therefore we prevented the flotillas from leaving."

President Christofias strongly condemned the recent brutal murder of a Jewish family, adding that the murder was committed by people lacking any humanity and is intended as a provocation against efforts to achieve peace and security in the region.

President Christofias expressed his commitment to enhance relations between Israel and the European Union, under the rotating Presidency of Cyprus during the second half of 2012. "We are ready to contribute within the framework of the European Union to the peace process in the region. "Consider us as a bridge to advancing the peace process, and economic and diplomatic cooperation with Europe," he said. President Christofias reiterated Cyprus' support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel, as well as Israel's right to security and stability.

The Israeli officials thanked President Christofias for the assistance that Cyprus provided in putting out the fire on Mount Carmel. The President of Cyprus presented his interlocutors with gifts that bear evidence to historic relations between the two countries and the two peoples, - a picture album of Jewish refugees, Holocaust survivors who stayed in Cyprus during the British mandate period.

During the President's visit to Israel, an additional four bilateral agreements were signed namely, an agreement between the Cypriot Institute and the University of Tel Aviv, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Cyprus Stock Exchange and the Stock Exchange of Tel Aviv, a Protocol of Consultations for the Co-operation between the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs and an Agreement of Co-operation in Postal Services. These come on top of the numerous bilateral Agreements that have been signed the past 2-3 years. President Christofias was accompanied to Israel by the Cypriot Foreign Minister, the Minister of Industry and Trade and a delegation of 60 Cypriot businesspeople.

This press release is being distributed by Qorvis Communications on behalf of the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.