New Cypriot FM makes Israel 2nd port of call

This will be Kozakou-Marcoullis’s second trip since becoming foreign minister, her first being a trip to Greece some 12 days ago.

Erato Kozakou Marcoullis 311 (photo credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi)
Erato Kozakou Marcoullis 311
(photo credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi)
New Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis will visit Israel on Wednesday, less than three weeks after taking over her new post, in what is widely viewed as a sign of the importance Cyprus now attributes to ties with Israel.
This will be only Kozakou-Marcoullis’s second visit abroad since becoming foreign minister, her first being a trip to Greece some 12 days ago.
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One Cypriot foreign ministry official said her visit to Israel so soon after taking office “speaks about the importance Israel and Cyprus attach to their relations. The relations of the two countries have seen a tremendous development in the last two years on the political and the economic level.”
Moreover, he said, the ties are likely to get even closer in the future with the prospect of possible cooperation on the development of the countries’ natural gas fields.
Kozakou-Marcoullis, a career diplomat who served as foreign minister briefly from July 2007 to March 2008, is scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during her 36-hour visit.
Like ties with Greece, Israel’s relations with Cyprus have been on a sharp upward trajectory over the last two years, ever since the deterioration in Jerusalem’s ties with Turkey – Cyprus and Greece’s bitter historic rival.
At the beginning of the last decade, both Cyprus and Greece were considered among the most – if not the most – unfriendly countries toward Israel in Europe, a situation that has seen a marked reversal in recent months. For instance, Cyprus consistently refuses to let vessels seeking to take part in Gaza-bound flotillas set sail from its ports.
Kozakou-Marcoullis’s visit comes fast on the heels of the visit in March of Cyprus communist President Demetris Christofias, the first visit by a Cypriot prime minister in 11 years. Then Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou accompanied him on that visit.
Earlier this month, following public furor over the government’s handling of a munitions blast on the island that killed 13 people, and knocked out the country’s biggest power plant causing severe electricity disruptions, Christofias reshuffled his cabinet, appointing Kozakou-Marcoullis in Kyprianou’s place.