The trip’s highlights included a private luncheon at the Presidential Palace hosted by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the First Lady, and attended by the Minister of Defense and other top officials. In addition, the group met with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who addressed the AJC Global Forum 2014; Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots Photis Photiou; U.S. Ambassador John Koenig; and Israeli Ambassador Michael Harari.
Among the principal topics addressed by the 13-member delegation were: 1) further strengthening ties among Cyprus, the U.S., and Israel; 2) encouraging international support for unifying the island, which has been divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974; and 3) exploring areas for potential regional cooperation.
“We traveled to Cyprus to express our support for the democratic island nation, and for further deepening and widening its already robust ties with Israel, the only other truly democratic country in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris, who has visited the island many times, and was honored by the Cyprus Federation in September 2014, in the presence of President Anastasiades. “We appreciate the critical role of Cyprus in enhancing regional security and cooperation.”
During the trip, Harris was invited to address more than 150 distinguished diplomats, faculty, and students at the University of Cyprus, where he spoke about regional dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the challenges to Israel’s quest for lasting peace and security.
Moreover, the delegation met with the distinguished Geostrategic Council of Cyprus, a recently formed foreign policy group that advises the Cypriot President.
“We urge the U.S. government to publicly recognize the constructive efforts of President Anastasiades for a speedy resumption of the UN-led Cyprus settlement process. Moreover, we urge the international community to press Turkey to end its illegal intrusion into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, where hydrocarbon exploration has been underway,” Harris added.
AJC has maintained close ties with Cypriot diplomats in the U.S. and Europe, as well as with Hellenic-American leaders, several of whom joined the delegation during the group’s stay in Cyprus. In recognition of these decades-long efforts, Foreign Minister Kasoulides called AJC an “architect” of the quadrilateral partnership among the U.S., Cyprus, Greece, and Israel while addressing the AJC Global Forum 2014.
The visit concluded a six-day AJC diplomatic mission that also included stops in Azerbaijan and Ukraine.