Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Sunday afternoon with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia after arriving in Lanarca for a two-day visit with his wife Sara and his staff.
The two leaders are to be joined by their Greek counterpart, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, for a trilateral meeting on production and transport of natural gas in the region.
The Cypriot and Israeli leaders reviewed an Honor Guard, with their countries’ national anthems playing in the background. The Prime Minister laid a wreath at the foot of the statue of Cyprus’s first president, the Archbishop Makarios III.
Following the ceremony Netanyahu and Christodoulides met privately before opening an expanded meeting with the participation of their staffs.
“We’re talking about now in the field of energy, about two main things,” Netanyahu told reporters. “One is an electrical connector that will connect Cyprus to Greece and to the mainland Europe. And from Cyprus to Israel and possibly to countries to our east. And that gives us the ability to, not to be — forgive the expression — islands. I’m not sure being an island is so bad. We in Israel often even wished that we’d been an island. But you certainly don’t want to be an energy island. You want to be connected to other sources of power that can allow a more optimal use of power. Or give you power when there is a failure in your own country. That is something that we’re discussing seriously and we hope to achieve,” the prime minister said.
“We’re also talking about various options for cooperation in natural gas. We’ve been very fortunate, both our countries, in discovering reserves of gas. And we’re talking about how we could cooperate in this. This is something that we’ll continue in the coming months.”
Netanyahu also raised the issue of regional firefighting, adding that Israel is using artificial intelligence (AI) in its local firefighting efforts.
“We very much support the European decision to build a regional firefighting and emergency center here in Cyprus,” he said. “It will serve, I think, not only Cyprus, Israel, Greece, other countries in the region. Now, we think we can, we’d like to be part of it, and we certainly think we can bring a lot of things to it. I mentioned AI, because increasingly our firefighting efforts in Israel are not only using planes, but using AI systems, which immeasurably increase the ability to put out fires.
“The climate isn’t going to get cooler. It’s going to get hotter,” Netanyahu warned. “And with, you know, with the heating up of our region and the globe, firefighting becomes a really important thing. We can, I think we can do it better together, and that’s obvious and we will.”
Netanyahu also raised the also the possibility of solidifying the idea of an Asia-Middle East-Europe corridor.
“That’s going to happen as part of the extension of the Abraham Accords, and possibly, obviously possible normalization with other countries in the region,” he said.
“I’m quite confident that we will have a corridor that could go through Israel, from the Arabian Peninsula, from Asia to the Arabian Peninsula to Israel to Cyprus, and from there to Europe. An example of the most obvious one is a fiber optic connection. That’s the shortest route. It’s the safest route. It’s the most economic route. That is one example.”
Among those attending the expanded meeting for the Israeli side were the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, the Director of the National Security Council, the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Director of the National Economic Council, the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser, the Head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson and the Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus.
Among those attending for the Cypriot side were the Foreign Minister, the Energy, Trade and Industry Minister, the National Security Adviser and the Cypriot Ambassador to Israel.