Nicosia: Israel and Cyprus, neighbours in an unstable region, are going through the “best chapter” in the history of their relations, visiting Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Friday.
Lieberman held talks with Cypriot officials in Nicosia on regional security, energy, tourism and bilateral relations.
The focus was on military cooperation including joint exercises, training, information sharing, cyber defence and search and rescue, Cyprus Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said after their meeting.
“Despite all political problems and security problems in our region, we are two small democracies and very, very reliable friends ... Today is most probably the best chapter in our history,” Lieberman told reporters.
“We have very close cooperation at all levels such as security, politics and the economy,” he said.
Fokaides said Cyprus and Israel were determined to jointly combat the threat of terrorism and work to boost stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
“This is not only important for us living in the region but also Europe which suffers from the violence of terrorism,” the Cypriot minister said.
On the economic front, Israeli firms are involved in exploration for gas off Cyprus that Nicosia aims to commercially export to Egypt by 2020.
And in what is proving to be a boom year for Cyprus tourism, Lieberman said 140,000 Israelis are expected to visit the holiday island in 2016, a 40 per cent increase on past years, on the back of a jump in Larnaca-Tel Aviv air links.