The shared interests and the increasingly close ties between Cyprus, Israel and the UK were highlighted during the first joint ‘Conservative Friends of Cyprus’ and ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’ meeting at the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday afternoon.
The heads of the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Cyprus and of Israel in the UK, Conservative MPs members of the two party affiliate groups, the British Minister for Middle East Tobias Ellwood and members of the UK Cypriot and Israeli community reiterated the strong relationships between the three countries.
The High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus to the UK Euripides Evriviades, who has also served as his country’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, said that the bilateral relation between the two Eastern Mediterranean countries is “vibrant” and “multi-tiered”, as it has “mushroomed and matured” over the last years.
The Cypriot diplomat noted that “geography is destiny”’ therefore working together with one’s neighbours is not only a choice but also a necessity. He commented that in a region that “spells volatility” Cyprus is the “dependable partner” that countries such as Israel and Britain need.
He referred to the cooperation with Israel on energy and security, noting that both countries, as well as the UK, are “on the same strategic boat” when it comes to dealing with asymmetric threats. Cyprus is a “producer” and not a “consumer” of security, added the High Commissioner. He also noted that the island conveys the EU’s principles and values to the Eastern Mediterranean and at the same time expresses the region’s interest in the European forums.
Evriviades pointed to the trilateral partnership between Cyprus, Israel and Greece as a model of much needed regional cooperation and stressed that Cyprus has been developing similar synergies with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, thus acting as a bridge of indirect communication between countries of the region that are on good terms.
He also said that the peoples of Cyprus and Israel share a strong bond, reminding the audience of how many Israeli couples choose Cyprus as the place to tie the knot.
Israel’s ambassador Mark Regev said that the first joint event of the two Conservative Party ethnic organisation was an important and opportune occasion, as Israel and Cyprus are “two proud western democracies wanting to see a more stable, secure and prosperous Eastern Mediterranean.”
He underlined the fascinating prospect created by the discovery of hydrocarbons in both countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones and added: “We are not only partners, friends and neighbours, but we also share a very strong relationship with the UK in a triangle of common interests and values.”
Elwood said that the conflicts in the Middle East require long-term solutions, and that Britain is a credible power contributing towards them. In reference to Brexit, the Foreign Office Minister noted that it provides the opportunity to the UK to further develop trade and financial bonds with countries such as Cyprus and Israel.
Evriviades commented that Cyprus and Britain had had good relations already before his country entered the EU. “This umbilical bond will continue with or without Brexit,” he ascertained.
The head of the Conservative Friends of Israel Sir Eric Pickles MP described the two countries as pillars of democracy in a volatile region; whereas the Conservative Friends of Cyprus President Theresa Villiers MP referred to the intense interest in the hydrocarbon reserves of both countries.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY