To enhance safer borders in the region, a US-funded training facility, the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS), was inaugurated on Wednesday.
Senior US State Department official Victoria Nuland attended the ceremony at the high-tech training facility that cements Cyprus’ burgeoning relations with Washington.
“This state-of-the-art facility we formally inaugurate today is the crown of our security co-operation,” said Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides at the ceremony.
“Allow me to officially extend our gratitude for the invaluable involvement of the US Government in setting it up.
“Our aspiration is that the CYCLOPS Training Centre in Larnaca becomes a regional Centre of Excellence for specialized training in all security-related fields.”
Several European Union states and some countries in the Middle East have shown “strong interest” in training their officials in customs checks and cybersecurity threats.
Construction of the complex in the southern port town of Larnaca was envisaged in a deal signed in September 2020 with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
CYCLOPS allows the United States to provide technical assistance related to security and safety, including customs and exports control, port and maritime security and cybersecurity.
Washington seeks to enhance regional capabilities in border security, cybersecurity and non-proliferation.
Cyprus said it was selected because the Mediterranean island is located at the EU’s southeastern tip and enjoys good relations with key Middle East countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
The training facility includes training platforms, including a mock land border crossing, a passenger screening area, and a mobile cybersecurity training lab.
The US is providing equipment and experts training staff.
Cyprus has made a concerted effort to cultivate better relations with the US, culminating in the 2019 Eastern Mediterranean Energy and Security Partnership Act, signalling Washington’s backing for an energy-focused partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
It also included lifting a 33-year US arms embargo on Cyprus to allow “non-lethal” military weapons to be exported.
“Over the last eight years, we have seen the transformation of this partnership through tangible action, particularly in our security co-operation.
“We firmly believe this to be an irreversible process, with further, great potential,” said Kasoulides.