Cyprus partnership growing stronger, deeper, says Blinken

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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the U.S.-Cyprus partnership is growing stronger, deeper and broader, and that Cyprus is “an important player in the region and a partnership for the United States that we deeply value.”

A bilateral agreement was also signed bringing Cyprus closer to being included in the visa waiver programme for entry to the U.S.

Welcoming Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos to Washington on Monday, to announce the launch of a strategic dialogue between the two countries, Blinken said the aim is, “to further our bilateral relationship. Through the Cyprus maritime corridor, we’re working together to get essential aid to Gaza. We’ll continue to strengthen relations in our strategic dialogue this fall.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, President Nikos Christodoulides expressed “great satisfaction” with the announcement, saying that “as of today, our bilateral relationship with the U.S. is enhanced significantly”.

“This is an agreement that significantly upgrades and strengthens the strategic relationship of the Republic of Cyprus with the United States, especially at an important juncture,” Christodoulides said.

He said cooperation will be upgraded in areas of energy, research and technology, as well as security, in addition to boosting trade and investment opportunities.

“At the same time, we are working intensively with the American authorities for the inclusion of our country in the visa waiver programme, which will allow Cypriot citizens to travel to the United States without the need to secure, in advance, an entry permit. In this context, a bilateral cooperation agreement has been signed for the exchange of travel information.”

Signing the agreement, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Julie Fisher said, “the strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Cyprus will strengthen the ties between us. This forum presents an opportunity to bring our governments, our businesses and our people closer together.”

On behalf of Cyprus, the agreement was signed by Ambassador Evangelos Savva.

In his welcoming remarks, Secretary Blinken said, “this is an important moment in the relationship between the United States and Cyprus.

Powerful evidence

“We will be announcing and initiating a strategic dialogue between our countries.  The first will take place this fall in Cyprus.  I think it’s very powerful evidence of the strengthening, the deepening, the broadening of the relationship between our countries, acting together in so many different areas.

“Of course, the maritime corridor in Gaza is a prominent example, but if you look at what we’re doing in terms of trade, in terms of science and technology, in terms of security, in terms of education, in terms of people-to-people ties, you see a partnership, a relationship that’s growing stronger, that’s growing deeper.

“And it’s a reflection of the fact that Cyprus is an important player in the region and a partnership for the United States that we deeply value,” Blinken concluded.

Foreign Minister Kombos said, “we reaffirmed the importance of the Cyprus-US relationship, and announced a Strategic Dialogue between our two countries. My message was clear: Cyprus is a reliable and predictable partner to the U.S. Cyprus is part of the solution; Cyprus is part of the answer.”

“We are moving forward in order to create a structured dialogue, a dialogue that is going to be intensive, and that’s for the benefit of our people of our two countries.  We share a common foundation – our core values; our respect, commitment to democracy, to the rule of law; our opposition to aggression and to revisionism.  And upon those we stand together, whether that’s in Ukraine or in relation to other places where we have such incidents.

“At the same time, Cyprus is a credible, predictable partner for the U.S.  And in a very complicated region, the message is very simple:  Cyprus is part of the solution.  Cyprus is part of the answer.  It is through this lens that five decades of occupation of Cyprus by Türkiye should be approached.  And on that, we count on the support of the United States.”

Energy

Foreign Minister Kombos also met with with Geoffrey R. Pyatt, Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources and recently U.S. Ambassador to Athens, saying they exchanged views on issues relating to the full spectrum of the Cyprus-US energy agenda.

Pyatt said they discussed eastern Mediterranean energy, including offshore gas development, electricity interconnections, “and our strong support for deeper regional integration.”

Last Friday, Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos was at the United Nations in New York, addressing an event to mark the 60 th anniversary of the arrival of the UN peace keeping force in Cyprus, Unficyp.

Also present was Lieutenant General Cheryl Pearce who served at Unficyp commander in 2019-2021.

The event included a photographic exhibition about the UN’s “blue beret” peacekeepers stationed on the island and the conflict that they witnessed.

“Members of the force served the UN and the Cypriots with courage. Some gave their lives during their service. Their sacrifice is not forgotten. And the Republic of Cyprus is grateful to them”, Kombos said.

He added that “the Turkish occupation [since 1974] remains a painful reality, a constant violation of international aaw, a constant reminder that a member state of this Organisation faces, on a daily basis, an existential threat.”

Kombos also referred to the attacks against Unficyp members near Pyla last August, which he said the international community condemned in the strongest terms, and that the recent movements of the occupying forces are manifestations of today’s challenges.

He concluded that, “the UN cannot be intimidated” and that maintaining an “equal-distance policy is dangerous”, adding that “the UN cannot undermine the principles for which peacekeepers sacrificed their lives.”