EU and Middle Eastern countries look to train at Cyprus security centre
Personnel to be taught border, customs, maritime and cybersecurity techniques
Three EU member states and three Middle Eastern countries expect to train personnel in border, customs, maritime and cybersecurity techniques at a cutting-edge US-funded facility in Cyprus that is scheduled to be ready early next year, the Cypriot foreign minister said on Thursday.
The Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-Seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS) is scheduled to start operating on January 16, 2022, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said, after inspecting the under-construction facility with US ambassador Judith Garber.
Mr Christodoulides said Cyprus was selected for the centre because the Mediterranean island nation is located at the southeastern end of the EU and enjoys good relations with nations in the Middle East.
“Officials from neighbouring countries as well as from EU member states will receive the kind of training required to counter common threats of a non-military nature,” he said.
CYCLOPS will include state-of-the-art equipment and a mobile facility to train officials on how to best protect key infrastructure projects and how to conduct cyber investigations and border screening. The US will provide equipment and training staff.
Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said US President Joe Biden considers Cyprus a “significant partner” in bolstering regional security in the east Mediterranean and has pledged to further strengthen US-Cyprus relations.
Mr Biden made the remarks in a letter addressed to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Mr Koushos said. In the letter, the US president looks forward to working with Mr Anastasiades to deal with issues of common interest in the east Mediterranean, the spokesman said.
Cyprus and the US have forged closer security links in recent years, culminating in the 2019 congressional approval of the Eastern Mediterranean Energy and Security Partnership Act, which underscored US support for an energy-based partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
Under the act, the US is providing ethnically-divided Cyprus with funding for military training and has partially lifted an arms embargo that was enacted 33 years ago to prevent a potential arms race from harming peace talks with the country's breakaway Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus has licensed ExxonMobil to prospect for oil and gas in waters where the island nation has exclusive economic rights.
Updated: June 3, 2021 10:21 PM