CYCLOPS groundbreaking ceremony underpins thriving US-Cyprus ties

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Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony of US-funded CYCLOPS, the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-Seas and Port Security is the realisation of stronger bilateral relations between Nicosia and Washington.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides and acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf launched the event in Larnaca.

The United States will construct the facility costing $5 mln and provide equipment, trainers, and other capacity-building support, while Cyprus will contribute land, facilitate travel, and provide trainers. Official construction is expected to begin in February.

Wolf said that the facility will be owned and operated by the Republic of Cyprus for international partners to train in a dedicated facility with cutting edge equipment.

“Here, experts from the region will receive state of the art instruction in border security, customs and export controls, port and maritime security, and cybersecurity.

“A mobile cybersecurity training laboratory will allow regional partners to learn best practices to secure their critical infrastructure and engage in cross-border cyber investigations.

“These training platforms will serve as a hub that works in close association with partner countries in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and elsewhere,” said Wolf.

He has seen the model work first-hand in Central America where the US maintained a similar facility for well over a decade.

Wolf said the CYCLOPS centre is just one important result of continuing American engagement in the Eastern Mediterranean region and of the strong relationship between the United States and Cyprus.

“We look forward to continuing our security partnership with the Republic of Cyprus and the region in the coming years.”

CYCLOPS will allow the United States and their partners to provide enhanced technical assistance related to safety and security, including border security, customs and export controls, port and maritime security, and cybersecurity.

The training facility will include different hands-on training platforms, including a mock land border crossing, passenger screening area, and a mobile cybersecurity training laboratory.

“CYCLOPS will support our efforts to curb the proliferation of risks posed by malign regional actors and violent extremist organizations,” the US embassy said.

Joint effort

Christodoulides said Monday’s ceremony marks the culmination of a joint effort that has become emblematic of the way bilateral cooperation between Cyprus and the United States, has grown and deepened over the past few years.

“It is a positive occasion indeed, coming at the very beginning of a new year, and I very much hope that it will set the tone for things to come in 2021.

“The ground-breaking for the construction of CYCLOPS, a Training Facility that will serve Cyprus and the broader region, as well as our cooperation with the US, is an important development — one could even say a watershed — in a number of ways.”

He said it was a prime example of the tangible results of a growing bilateral security relationship already yielding accomplishments for both sides.

Christodoulides said this was the final phase of implementing the innovative project, for which discussions started soon after the signing of the Statement of Intent on Security Cooperation in 2018.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of CYCLOPS was signed with the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, during his visit to Cyprus last September.

“If everything goes well, the premises will be completed within the year.”

“We have high hopes that CYCLOPS will develop into a hub of activity – at a domestic, regional and international level.

“We are already working with our American friends, to see how we can expand its activities…we are already in discussions with the European Security and Defense College, an EU Institution, to see how we could develop synergies in relation to Counter-terrorism training activities.”