Rivlin: Mediterranean much safer because of Israel’s ties with Cyprus

President Rivlin says joint pipeline also with Greece could be one of the greatest underwater projects. 

By Associated Press and World Israel News

President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday hailed Israel’s flourishing ties with Cyprus, saying that cooperation between the two neighbors on intelligence, security, and terror prevention has made the eastern Mediterranean “much, much safer.”

“Security ties between our two countries have never been better,” Rivlin said after talks with Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades during a visit to the island nation.

“Our navies and commando units share space, knowledge and experience,” he added.

Rivlin said the prime focus of the strategic partnership, which includes Greece, is developing the East Med gas pipeline.

The envisioned pipeline, which, Rivlin said, “could be one of the greatest underwater projects in the world,” would carry natural gas from deposits in the eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece and Italy.

“The Israel-Cyprus partnership is an island of friendship, democracy and creativity, in the often-stormy Mediterranean Sea. Our region has been blessed with such potential for productive partnerships, but has been hurt, especially in recent years, by suffering and conflict.”

Anastasiades said Cyprus and Israel share a joint commitment to the East Med project that would diversify Europe’s hydrocarbons supply and bolster its energy security.

“Your visit is an important milestone in the relations between our countries. During our meeting, we exchanged ideas not only on the warm relations we already have but also on ways to deepen them. Our peoples have an ancient and strong bond. After the Holocaust, the Cypriot people took in many survivors of that terrible tragedy, and many babies were born here,” Anastasiades said.

‘Our synergies are beacons of hope’

“Today, we are in a new era of partnership based on our shared values. Together, we will deepen our cooperation in a range of fields – security, intelligence, energy and many more. Israel is an important strategic partner for us and an important power in regional security. We will continue to deepen relations facing the various emerging challenges as well as the opportunities they present.

“Our synergies are beacons of hope,” he stated.

Israeli-Cypriot relations have blossomed in the last decade following gas discoveries in waters off both countries. Israeli company Delek has a stake in Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field, which lies close to Israel’s massive Leviathan deposit.

Currently, energy companies, including Italy’s Eni, France’s Total and the American ExxonMobil, are involved in a hydrocarbons search in the waters off Cyprus’ southern coastline.

Turkey, however, insists the exploration infringes on its rights and the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to east Mediterranean hydrocarbon reserves. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last month that Turkey planned to send a ship to search for gas around Cyprus.

Rivlin said energy cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean could also benefit Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians. He said he discussed with Anastasiades the possibility of expanding the Israel-Cyprus-Greece partnership to include other countries.

The visit continues with a state luncheon hosted in honor of President Rivlin, after which he will participate in a ceremony marking 70 years since the closure of the detention camps for Jewish immigrants on the island. The ceremony will be held at the monument to the immigrants at the British Military Hospital in Nicosia.