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Cyprus, Israel Close to Agreement on Energy Cooperation

kasoulidesCyprus and Israel are very close to an agreement on cooperation in the energy sector, including energy security, said Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides after his visit to Israel.

The mood in Israel is very positive towards further cooperation with Cyprus, said the minister. Cypriot-Israeli relations have not been changed by a warming of diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, he said.

Turkey and Israel ties had been in decline after Israeli defence forces killed nine Turkish-origin peace activists en route to break the naval blockade on Gaza. Relations between Cyprus and Israel consequently warmed up, especially after both countries signed an agreement over their common maritime border and started to exploit natural gas reserves in each sector.

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to Turkey over the deaths, an apology which has satisfied the Turkish authorities, who are now seeking financial compensation for the victims' families.

Kasoulides said that Israel now hopes for a peace settlement between the Greek-and-Turkish Cypriot communities, after president Nicos Anastasides - who supported the 2004 UN peace plan - was elected. The 'Annan Plan' was rejected by the Greek-Cypriots, and accepted by the Turkish Cypriots, but unless the plan was accepted by both sides, it could not have been implemented.

The possibility of a solution is not dependent on events that occur on one side or the other, but upon both sides sending positive messages and goodwill, said Kasoulides.

As Cyprus is currently mired in financial and economic problems, the energy cooperation agreement between Cyprus and Israel is a bright spot that is likely to boost hopes for a quick recovery. 

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