President Shimon Peres and his Cypriot counterpart, Demetris Christofias, both
spoke of the importance of joint natural gas-related projects on Thursday,
during Peres’s state visit to the island nation.
Both men said
cooperation in the search for gas in the Mediterranean would have a positive
effect on the economies of the region. They did not rule out the possibility of
Turkey being a partner in such projects.
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“We waited for a long time to
discover natural resources in the region,” Peres told his host, “and now that
natural gas has been discovered within the jurisdiction of both our countries,
we will deal with the matter in accordance with international law, not taking
anything that belongs to someone else, on the understanding that they will not
take from us that which is ours.”
Peres made it clear that the strategic
alliance between Israel and Cyprus was not at the expense of any other country,
nor should it be regarded as a threat to any other country.
welcome the involvement of neighboring countries, especially Turkey. He again
made the point that if Turkey wanted to take advantage of this offer, it was
only on the proviso that it act within the bounds of international
Christofias said he wanted to use Peres’s visit to Cyprus to send a
message of peace and reconciliation to the Turkish leadership and to invite
Turkey to join with Cyprus and Israel in naturalgas exploration and projects
that derive from gas findings.
Cyprus is due to take over the rotating
presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2012. In light of this,
Peres and Christofias agreed to set up a joint strategic team to find ways in
which to improve cooperation between Europe and the Middle East, and to
strengthen those moderates in the Middle East who are trying to establish a new
era of freedom and democracy.
The two presidents also discussed what
further role Europe could play in efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian
Peres praised the Palestinian leadership, saying that it was a
good partner for peace negotiations.
During the visit, agreements were
signed between the two countries on communications, research and development and
Peres met with several Cypriot dignitaries including
Archbishop Chrysostomos, House of Representatives President Yiannakis Omirou and
main opposition leader Nicos Anastassiades.
Security was beefed up in
Cyprus for the two-day visit, various media outlets in Cyprus
According to the Cyprus Mail, police took what they called
“draconian” security measures in preparation for the visit by Israel’s
In addition to mounting a special operations force spearheaded
by the MMAD anti-terror squad, the police had a helicopter monitoring all of
Peres’s movements. All security measures were coordinated with the Cypriot
presidential guard and with Israeli security officials who accompanied Peres to
Peres was initially scheduled to visit Cyprus in July, but the
trip was deferred.
Immediately following his return, on Friday, Peres
will join the Rabin family in Tel Aviv at 1 p.m. at the monument at the site of
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination 16 years ago, and will lay a
wreath. The Rabin family observes both the Gregorian and Hebrew calendar dates
of Rabin’s death, and will travel to Jerusalem next week for the annual memorial
ceremony at the President’s Residence that is held in accordance with the Hebrew