The United States and Cyprus have agreed to construct a regional border security training hub in the Republic of Cyprus. Construction will begin later this year and it will be known as the Cyprus Center for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS).
The strategic location of Cyprus alongside a growing volume of maritime freight and traffic, presents a challenge for both the government and port operators.
Over the past two years, the United States has built an increasingly fruitful security relationship with Cyprus. The two countries have been working to train teams from Mediterranean countries in a variety of security fields. For example, the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) has held a number of training events in the Republic of Cyprus, most notably for Lebanese and Egyptian government officials.
CYCLOPS will expand this cooperation and support capacity-building in nations where in-country training is impossible. The facility will allow the United States and its partners to provide technical assistance in more areas related to security and safety, including customs and exports control, port and maritime security, and cybersecurity.
The United States will provide equipment, trainers, and other capacity-building support, while the Republic of Cyprus will contribute land, facilitate travel, and provide additional trainers.
CYCLOPS will include a number of different hands-on training platforms, including a mock land border crossing, passenger screening area, and a mobile cyber security training lab, which will enable regional partners to learn best practices for securing critical infrastructure and to engage in cross border, counterproliferation cyber investigations.
CYCLOPS will support the United States’ efforts to curb the proliferation risks posed by malign regional actors and violent extremist organizations.
Speaking at the CYCLOPS signing ceremony in Nicosia on September 12, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that security cooperation “matters all the more as we see nations which don’t share our values trying to obtain new footholds in the region”, pointing to Russia’s money-laundering activities and its regular port calls in Cyprus. “We know that all the Russian military vessels that stop in Cypriot ports are not conducting humanitarian missions in Syria, and we asked Cyprus to consider our concerns.”
Pompeo added that the U.S. remains “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s ongoing operations surveying for natural resources in areas over which Greece and Cyprus assert jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean. “The Republic of Cyprus has the right to exploit its natural resources, including the right to hydrocarbons found in its territorial sea and its economic – exclusive economic zone.”