Israeli President Rivlin Visits Cyprus, Says Security Cooperation Makes the Middle East “Safer”

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin paid a brief visit to Cyprus and hailed the alliance between the two nations, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

Rivlin, the third Israeli president to visit the island nation — previously Ezer Weizman visited in 1998 and Shimon Peres in 2011 — was received by President Nicos Anastasiades.

After joking that the meeting could have been a little tense because Israel beat out Cyprus in last year’s Eurovision song contest, Rivlin expressed his wishes to meet Anastasiades in Tel Aviv during this year’s competition.

“The relations between our two countries have never been better,” Rivlin said, referring to the cooperation between Israel and Cyprus in the field of security cooperation and the fight against terror. This cooperation means that “Cyprus, Israel and the Middle East are safer,” the president said. “Now we looking forward to share the fruits of growth and prosperity.”

Rivlin also noted the economic cooperation between the two nations, including more than $650 million in trade and 250,000 Israelis visiting Cyprus each year.

“This bilateral strategic partnership is now a trilateral one, together with Greece, and it can be expanded in to a larger partnership,” Rivlin observed. “Energy cooperation with parties in the eastern Mediterranean can make a great difference for the people of Cyprus, Israel, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. We look forward to making progress in all these areas of cooperation for the security and prosperity of our two nations and for the stability of the Mediterranean.”

“Your visit is an important milestone in the relations between our countries,” Anastasiades told Rivlin. “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. 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.”

While in Cyprus, Rivlin attended a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary since the last detention camp for Jewish immigrants was closed following World War II.

[Photo: Reuven Rivlin / Twitter ]