Cyprus and the USA signed on Tuesday a Declaration of Intent on strengthening cooperation on border security issues to counter common threats and foster stability in the region.
Cyprus Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides and the US Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf signed the Declaration in Nicosia.
Afterwards, Christodoulides said that Wolf’s visit attests to how far the Cyprus-US partnership has evolved and progressed over the past few years.
“It comes at a time of significant developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East – developments that inevitably impact on regional security.”
He said there is no better proof of Cyprus’s role as a dependable partner and credible enabler of regional security and stability than the steady flow of visits from US Officials.
Christodoulides said that bilateral relations with the US marked “remarkable progress” in areas of regional security, cooperation in defence, energy, and counterterrorism.
“Our growing cooperation in the context of the trilateral nexus of regional synergies and the 3+1 format with Greece and Israel is very much worth noting”.
“It is against this backdrop of expanding cooperation that we signed a Declaration of Intent on strengthening our cooperation on border security issues and enhancing our capacity to counter common threats and foster stability in the region”.
He said the Declaration reaffirms a “shared determination” to work towards achieving full visa reciprocity, “in line with our common end–goal of improving reciprocal travel” for people contacts and business.
“Indeed, progress achieved in the process for the accession of Cyprus to the US Visa Waiver Program was one of the topics we discussed at length with Chad, mapping the next steps.”
Nicosia and Washington seek to bolster cooperation on security issues through training, transfer of know-how and development of infrastructure.
Which is why Washington is funding a regional training centre in Larnaca.
The $5 mln Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-Seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS) will incorporate a mobile facility to instruct officials on how to best protect their key infrastructure and take part in cross-border cyber investigations.
It will also include a mock land border crossing and a passenger screening area. The U.S. will build the facility and provide equipment and trainers. It’s expected that it will be completed by year’s end.
CYCLOPS will mirror a similar facility that the U.S. State Department has maintained in Central America for over a decade.
“At the beginning of this year I can confidently say that bilateral relations have never been stronger,” said Wolf.
“Based on our discussions today they can only grow stronger. The United States certainly looks forward to future positive collaboration…across the board,” he added.