Cyprus Foreign Minister Addresses AJC Global Forum
WASHINGTON, May 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, addressing the AJC Global Forum, expressed admiration for the Jewish advocacy organization, support for her country's close relations with Israel, and concern for Turkey's regional ambitions.
"The fact that I am the first Foreign Minister of Cyprus to address the AJC Global Forum represents a turning point in our relationship with the American Jewish Committee and perhaps even with the American Jewish community at large," said Kozakou-Marcoullis, who praised AJC Executive Director David Harris and Jason Isaacson, AJC Director of Government and International Affairs, for their "efforts and forward thinking" in building the relationship.
Reviewing the flurry of visits over the past several years by Israeli and Cypriot leaders, Kozakou-Marcoullis emphasized that the bilateral relationship has a long history, and is firmly founded on shared democratic values and a common regional outlook.
She recalled how Cyprus "welcomed Jewish refugees from Europe during the darkness of the Holocaust and contributed to efforts of the Hagana to smuggle Jews interned in British camps out of Cyprus and to Mandatory Palestine."
In more recent years, Cypriot doctors have studied in Israel, Israel has provided desalination technology to Cyprus, and, during the last two years, over 30 bilateral agreements were signed.
"We share a common sphere, be it in terms of the synthesis called 'Mediterranean Culture,' dating back several millennia, or in the values of democracy and freedom, or even in the fact that we are both small countries, with few resources and facing many challenges," she said.
The foreign minister spoke about the opportunities for Cyprus and the region emerging from the discovery of a large underwater field of hydrocarbon deposits near the island nation. "The enormity of investment required to exploit this offshore treasure creates an impetus of its own toward greater cooperation," said Kozakou-Marcoullis, adding that Cyprus already has concluded agreements with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel.
However, she expressed dismay with Turkey's position regarding the hydrocarbons field, in addition to other longstanding Turkish policy towards Cyprus.
"Turkey's behavior toward Cyprus has not gone unnoticed by our neighbors," said Kozakou-Marcoullis. "While they recognize, as we do, the significance of Turkey, there is skepticism about Turkey's true intentions, and whether Turkey is a stabilizing factor in the region."
The foreign minister expressed confidence that both Israel and the U.S. share the Cypriot perception of Turkey's regional ambitions. Turkey, she said, "appears keen on bullying its way into a position of hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East."
In conclusion, Kozakou-Marcoullis returned to the Cypriot-Israeli relationship, quoting Israeli President Peres who said that "Cyprus and Israel are examples of how success is not dependent upon territory. A small land can house big things. A state small in its territory can be a great country in spirit, and Cyprus and Israel are the finest examples."
SOURCE American Jewish CommitteeBack to top