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Renewal of Israel-Turkey diplomatic relations ‘will not affect’ Nicosia’s ties with Tel Aviv

pelekanos
Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos

The renewal of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel will not affect Cyprus’ relations with Tel Aviv, government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said on Thursday.

The spokesman told CNA: “These were also the clear assurances we have received from the Israeli side at the highest level in the context of full transparency and the close contacts we maintain.”

“Relations between states are by no means a zero-sum game,” he added. “Our bilateral cooperation with Israel is of a strategic nature and is based on international law, honesty and mutual respect.”

He said this was confirmed by the multilateral cooperation Cyprus had developed with Israel, both under the trilateral mechanism with the participation of Greece, as well as under the multilateral scheme, also with the participation of the US.

Israel and Turkey announced on Wednesday they would re-appoint respective ambassadors more than four years after they were called back, the two countries, marking another milestone after months of improved relations.

The two regional powers had expelled ambassadors in 2018 over the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests on the Gaza border against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

But they have been working to mend long-strained ties with energy emerging as a key area for potential cooperation.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said on Wednesday the two countries decided to restore full diplomatic ties.

“It was decided to once again upgrade the level of the relations between the two countries to that of full diplomatic ties and to return ambassadors and consuls general,” Lapid’s office said in a statement following a conversation between the prime minister and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” it added.

A visit to Turkey by Israeli President Isaac Herzog in March, followed by visits by both foreign ministers, helped warm relations after more than a decade of tensions.

Erdogan and Lapid held a phone call on Wednesday, both countries said, and expressed their satisfaction with the progress in relations and congratulated each other for the decision to appoint ambassadors.

Erdogan said the necessary steps to appoint the ambassador would be taken as soon as possible, while Lapid said the strengthening ties would lead to achievements in commerce and tourism, according to separate readouts from the two sides.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier said the appointment of ambassadors was one of the steps in the normalisation of ties.

“Such a positive step came from Israel as a result of these efforts, and as Turkey, we also decided to appoint an ambassador to Israel, to Tel Aviv,” Cavusoglu said at a news conference in Ankara, adding Turkey was selecting someone.

The move, which comes as Israel has sought to improve ties with regional powers, was agreed two years after the so-called Abraham Accords which saw relations normalised between Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

Turkey also launched a charm offensive in 2020 to repair ties with estranged rivals, making overtures to Egypt, the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Efforts with Cairo have so far yielded little progress, but officials have said normalisation work with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are going well.

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