Israel will not let the warming up of its relations with Turkey affect its relations with Cyprus and Greece, Israeli Ambassador in Nicosia Oren Anolik told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) on Friday.

“Israel and Cyprus are good friends and strategic partners. We don’t have any intention to change this no matter what our relations with other countries in the region. We feel that there are a lot of opportunities and potential. And we would like to take all this and move it forward for the benefit of the people of Cyprus and Israel,” Anolik said.

Moreover, he said that President Nicos Anastasiades has been leading a very positive policy when it comes to the relations with Israel. “He is being seen as a real friend of Israel and is appreciated for doing this. I have every reason to believe that no matter who is going to be elected in Cyprus (as the new President) this will continue,” the ambassador added.

Asked about the rapproachement between Israel and Turkey and if this may affect relations between Cyprus and Israel, Anolik said that if there is an effect, it will only be a positive one.

“We were very clear at all levels, starting with the President and the Prime Minister of Israel by sending very clear messages to the Cypriot leadership, saying this is not a zero-sum game,” he noted, adding that Cyprus and Israel have excellent relations in different fields that keep on developing.

He stressed that “we will not in any way pay with a Cypriot currency for what might happen with Turkey. We will not let any kind of warming up of relations with Turkey affect our relations with our very good friends in Cyprus and also in Greece as well. This was a very clear message and we stand by it.”

“The improvement of the relations with Turkey can also be seen within the context of Israel improving its relations with other countries in the Muslim world the same way in which Cyprus is improving its relations with Arab and Muslim countries, because they think it is for the benefit of Cyprus and we believe it is,” he said.

“We believe that this actually creates a kind of a triangle in which we can all work together in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East: Israel and Cyprus and Greece and Arab and Muslim countries. In this context if Turkey has better relations with us and maybe with some other countries in the region, I think this brings more stability to the region, I think it can work to the benefit of bringing down extremism and having a better relation for all of us. And Cyprus can actually benefit from this”.

He also noted that it might be beneficial to Cyprus “to know that they have another friend who is capable of reaching the ears of Ankara and be able to transmit messages if needed in this case and try to keep this stability and balance in the region.”

Asked if Israel is ready to play the role of a mediator between Cyprus and Turkey, Anolik said that he would not go as far as calling Israel a mediator. “But what we are saying is that we are here. If somebody wants to use this channel, he would find willingness from our side to listen and move a message forward. But we are not initiating this.”

Referring to tourism, he said that Israel is among the first four countries as regards the number of tourists coming to Cyprus this year. “We are heading towards repeating the record that we had before Covid-19. Before Covid-19 we had 300,000 Israelis coming to Cyprus. This year is not over yet and we will probably be close to this number also this year.

“So I think these are very good times for the relations between the two countries and I am very happy that I have the chance to be here and experience personally this tightening of the relations,” he added.