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FM outlines Cyprus’ vision to establish a regional security organisation

FM Nikos Christodoulides during a discussion held in the framework of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, outlined Cyprus’ vision to establish an organization of security and cooperation in the region, speaking on Sunday in Washington, during a discussion held in the framework of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference.

He said that Cyprus’ vision is to create a regional security and cooperation organisation, with the participation of all like-minded countries, in the framework of which all regional matters of cooperation will be discussed.

Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro and AIPAC’s International Affairs Director Stephen Schneider coordinated the discussion.

Replying to a question the Christodoulides set out the framework of relations between Cyprus and Israel, as a threefold one.

On the bilateral level, he noted the close cooperation between the two countries, which extends beyond the energy sector to matters of security, technology and health. He added that contact between their peoples is also enhanced.

On the trilateral level, he spoke of the cooperation mechanism between Cyprus, Greece and Israel, which also had as it starting point energy matters but has expanded to include other important areas. Six summits have already taken place which have produced specific outcomes, he pointed out.

Finally, Christodoulides said, we have the multilateral level of cooperation, expressed through the recent ad hoc participation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the trilateral summit in Jerusalem.

Replying to a question on energy developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Foreign Minister said that the Republic of Cyprus cooperates with all states in the region aiming to make the most of the Eastern Mediterranean’s energy prospects and the region’s potential to become an alternative energy corridor for Europe.

He stressed that Cyprus is interested in the EastMed Corridor in the context of which there are many prospects, among them the EastMed pipeline but also an LNG terminal in Cyprus.

“Everything will depend on the results of drills which will take place in 2019 and 2020,” he added.

Asked how energy security in the region will be achieved, he stressed that security calls for collective cooperation. This, he noted, has been something discussed recently in the 3+1 summit in Jerusalem, in bilateral contacts Cyprus has had with everyone in the region and in a meeting between Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Italy related to the EastMed pipeline.

“Everyone’s cooperation is what is necessary,” he pointed out.

Christodoulides, who arrived in Washington on Saturday, met with Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance (CHIA).

Apart from the panel discussion, he will also take part in the AIPAC Policy Conference and will have meetings with Congressmen Eliot Engel, Frank Pallone, Gus Bilirakis and Chris Van Hollen.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

CNA