45 Minutes...And 63 Years - Netanyahu On Cyprus Relations
It took a 45-minute plane ride - and 63 years - for an Israeli prime minister to visit Cyprus, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference with President Demetris Christofias in Nicosia.
There was a cordial heads of state meeting between Christofias and Netanyahu during the Israeli PM's historic visit. There is now cooperation between Cyprus and Israel in every area, from tourism to agriculture, said Netanyahu. Most importantly, Cyprus and Israel are cooperating on a joint study that in the next couple of months will result in concrete proposals on how to turn the cooperation into large scale joint energy projects.
Both countries have recently discovered natural gas reserves in offshore drill sites.
"We've had seven drills and seven hits, there are still over 50 potential spots in Israel," said the Israeli prime minister.
The joint cooperation could be extended to other countries in the region, he said. Both Cyprus and Israel have great hopes for the future but face current problems such as conflict between Israel and Palestine and the Turkish occupation of Cyprus.
Israel and Cyprus have problems that have to be solved through negotiation, peace, reconciliation, security and prosperity, he said. Netanyahu recalled Cyprus' help in the devastating fire in Israel, as 'an expression of a friend in need' - reciprocated later by Israel during the crisis after the explosion at Evangelos Florakis naval base in July 2011.
Christofias said that during the tete-a-tete visit he had with Netanyahu he briefed him on the outcome of the Greentree meeting in New York between himself, the Turkish-Cypriot leader and UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon.
"I highlighted to the prime minister that I will not accept timetables, said Christofias.
The leaders also exchanged views on the peace process in the Middle East, and Christofias reiterated his position of supporting an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel. The president also condemned the bomb attacks against Israelis in India and Georgia.
In an interview with journalist Chrysanthos Tsouroulis, who asked him if Cyprus' good relations in the Arab world bothered him, Netanyahu said that there are Arab countries which are interested in Israel and in improving their relations with Israel because of the convulsions through the Arab world.
Asked whether he thinks that Turkey-Israel relations are on razor edge, Netanyahu said he doesn't think so and that he'd like to have good relations with Turkey, "this was not our choice, it is Turkey's choice."
"A brother would be good, big brother is not a good idea. We are all living in this world, we have to find ways to live in it in peace..." said the Israeli prime minister.
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