Cyprus opens US-funded regional security centre
A US-funded security training facility for the eastern Mediterranean, the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS), opened on the Mediterranean island on Wednesday.
Senior State Department official Victoria Nuland attended the ceremony at the high-tech training facility that cements Cyprus's burgeoning relations with the United States.
"This state-of-the-art facility we formally inaugurate today is the crown of our security cooperation," Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said at the ceremony.
He thanked the US for its "invaluable involvement" in setting the facility up.
"Our aspiration is that the CYCLOPS training centre becomes a regional centre of excellence for specialised training in all security-related fields," Kasoulides said, hailing "blossoming cooperation with the United States".
Several fellow European Union member states and some countries in the Middle East have shown "strong interest" in training their officials in customs checks and cybersecurity threats.
Construction of the complex in the port town of Larnaca was envisaged in a deal signed in September 2020 by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
CYCLOPS allows the United States to provide technical assistance related to security and safety, including customs and exports control, port and maritime security, and cybersecurity.
Cyprus said it was selected because the island lies at the EU's southeastern tip and enjoys good relations with Middle East countries including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
The new facility provides training platforms, including a mock land border crossing, a passenger screening area, and a mobile cybersecurity training lab.
The US is providing equipment and expert training.
Since conservative President Nicos Anastasiades took office in 2013, he has overseen a sharp improvement in relations with the United States, which were long dogged by allegations of US collusion in the events that led up to Turkey's occupation of the north of the island in 1974.
Cyprus has made a concerted effort to cultivate better relations, culminating in the 2019 Eastern Mediterranean Energy and Security Partnership Act, signalling Washington's backing for an energy-focused partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
It also included lifting a 33-year US arms embargo on Cyprus to allow "non-lethal" military hardware to be exported.
"Over the last eight years, we have seen the transformation of this partnership through tangible action, particularly in our security cooperation," Kasoulides said.
"We firmly believe this to be an irreversible process, with further, great potential."