(photo credit:Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet on Sunday morning with
new Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who said before the visit that
strengthening ties with Israel is one of his government’s most important
Netanyahu will meet Anastasiades shortly before leaving for
a five-day trip to China.
The Cyprus Mail quoted Anastasiades as saying
the aim of the visit was to begin a “to-the-point dialogue that can lead to
collaboration between the two countries that will benefit both peoples in many
areas, among them of course the exploitation of natural
Anastasiades arrived on Thursday evening for a twoday private
visit to attend Orthodox Easter ceremonies, before beginning the official part
of his visit on Sunday.
According to the Cyprus Mail, Anastasiades has
said in the past that his financially strapped country was pinning its economic
recovery on its natural gas. Cooperation with Israel in this field, therefore,
is extremely important.
The visit comes amid speculation of whether the
possibility of improved Israeli- Turkish ties as a result of Netanyahu’s recent
apology over the Mavi Marmara incident might put a brake on Cypriot-Israeli
ties. Those ties, as well as Israel’s relations with Greece, blossomed as
Turkish-Israeli ties withered over the last three years.
the first-ever Israeli prime ministerial visit to Cyprus last year.
government official said that Cyprus and Israel were two democratic countries in
the eastern Mediterranean, and their relationship was not dependent on ties with
Shortly after Netanyahu’s apology to Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in late March, Deputy Ambassador to Cyprus Shani
Cooper was quoted in the Cyprus Mail as saying that the “the normalization of
relations between Turkey and Israel was an important bilateral step but it will
not affect any multilateral, trilateral or bilateral relations between Israel
and other countries.
Israel will maintain its close relations with
Cyprus, and continue strengthening them as we have done the last few
Anastasiades’s trip to Israel comes just a couple weeks after the
country’s Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis visited the
Cypriot Defense Minister Fotis Fotiou arrived on Thursday and
met with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for discussions that included dealing
with securing both countries’ off-shore natural gas tracts. Two weeks ago,
Israel and Cyprus carried out a joint Search and Rescue drill north of
In addition to meeting Netanyahu, the Cypriot president will
meet Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and President Shimon Peres, visit Yad
Vashem, speak to a Cyprus-Israel business forum in Tel Aviv, and meet with
Theophilos III, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.
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