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Ground-breaking ceremony for US sponsored security training facility

Υπουργός Εξωτερικών – Τελετή Θεμε
Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf with Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on Monday (CNA)

Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Monday joined Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides at a ground-breaking ceremony for the CYCLOPS training facility in Larnaca, seen as indicative of deepening US-Cyprus security ties.

Wolf, who arrived in Cyprus earlier on Monday, will on Tuesday hold talks in Nicosia with the foreign, interior and justice ministers.

Work on the facility is expected to start next month and cost $5m donated by Washington.

In statements after the ceremony, Wolf said CYCLOPS will provide training to regional partners, including to secure borders, customs and export controls, port safety and sea transport, and cyber security.

Such training platforms are useful hubs, he added, noting that he had seen the same model in operation in Central America where such a facility has been in operation for more than a decade.

CYCLOPS was just one important result of US engagement in the east Mediterranean and the strong ties between the USA and Cyprus, he added.

Christodoulides hailed CYCLOPS, the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open Seas and Port Security that will serve Cyprus and the broader region, as the tangible result of the deepening bilateral security cooperation between the countries.

“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,” the minister said.

These discussions culminated in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of CYCLOPS with US 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.

“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,” the foreign minister added.

In time, there are hopes that CYCLOPS will develop into a hub of activity – at a domestic, regional and international level.

Cyprus was already working with the US, to see how to expand its activities, and within this framework was in discussions with the European Security and Defence College, an EU Institution, to see how to develop synergies in relation to counter-terrorism training activities.

At the same time, a “development team” for CYCLOPS was being put together whose role will be to look into different areas of training.

“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-radicalisation programmes that have been developed as part of the Aqaba Process. Already, a few countries have informally indicated an interest in such cooperation,” Christodoulides added.

On Tuesday, the US official will visit the foreign ministry in Nicosia, where he will have a private meeting with Christodoulides followed by consultations between the delegations of the two countries to review bilateral cooperation in several areas, such as the next steps as regards Cyprus’ inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Programme, as well as matters which have to do with the two countries’ cooperation on a bilateral and regional level with a view to strengthening security.

Christodoulides and Wolf will then sign a Declaration of Intent for cooperation on border security.

Wolf will also hold a joint meeting with the interior and justice ministers, Nicos Nouris and Emiy Yiolitis, to discuss issues relating to managing external borders, migration and security.

 

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