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