Overview: The Republic of Cyprus collaborated closely with the United States, the EU, and other countries — bilaterally and multilaterally — in international counterterrorism efforts in 2020. In particular, Cyprus continued to make progress on strengthening its banking sector’s counterterrorism financing (CTF) efforts. The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
Since 1974 the island of Cyprus has been de facto divided into the Republic of Cyprus government-controlled area in the southern two thirds of the island and the northern third, which is administered by the Turkish Cypriots. A UN peacekeeping force patrols a buffer zone, also called “the Green Line,” separating the two sides. The buffer zone is largely open to civilian traffic and remains a significant route for the illicit transit of people, narcotics, and other contraband.
The division of the island has impeded counterterrorism cooperation between the two communities and between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, which do not maintain diplomatic relations. This report covers only the Republic of Cyprus. It does not address terrorism or counterterrorism efforts in the areas under the administration of Turkish Cypriots.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in the Republic of Cyprus in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In November the United States and the Republic of Cyprus marked the second anniversary of the joint Statement of Intent on Security Cooperation, noting progress on several fronts.
In June the FBI and the Cyprus National Police finalized the technical details that would allow the secure exchange of fingerprints under the U.S.-Cyprus Preventing and Combating Serious Crime agreement.
In September, Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Christodoulides signed an MOU between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus to build a regional border security training facility. This U.S.-funded $5 million training facility, known as the Cyprus Center for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS), will strengthen regional border security and counterterrorism efforts, including customs and export controls, port and maritime security, and cybersecurity. Construction of the facility is set to begin and be completed within the 2021 calendar year.
The United States donated an underwater camera system to the Republic of Cyprus Port and Marine Police, primarily for use at the Port of Limassol, in September. The camera is used to ensure the safety of ships, piers, and infrastructure from terrorist activity, particularly from mines and IEDs. The camera also will be used to train regional Middle East and North African partners as part of CYCLOPS.
The Republic of Cyprus terminated its controversial citizenship-by-investment scheme in October, following an Al Jazeera exposé that revealed widespread corruption in the application process. Termination of the program will help prevent terrorists, and their sponsors and financiers, from buying an EU passport and the enhanced access to EU financial systems that comes with it.
In November the United States donated equipment for a mobile cyber lab to the Republic of Cyprus’s Digital Security Agency’s National Computer Security Incident Response Team. The donation includes 26 state-of-the-art laptop computers, each capable of both forensic analyses and cyber investigations, as well as presentation equipment such as projectors, portable interpretation equipment, and other computer lab accessories. The cyber partnership is meant to strengthen both the republic’s internal cybersecurity capacity and its ability to cooperate with the United States and other partners on critical cybersecurity efforts.
In December the Republic of Cyprus and the United States initiated talks on a bilateral pilot program to allow the Republic of Cyprus to improve screening of travelers and identify serious criminals and terrorists, which will help it implement UNSCR 2396. The pilot is expected to start in 2021.
Republic of Cyprus law enforcement officials participated in several U.S.-sponsored training programs on border security, counterterrorism, and CTF.
Cyprus is working with international consultants to mitigate risks by conducting a national AML/CFT risk assessment on virtual assets.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Republic of Cyprus is a member of MONEYVAL and underwent a Mutual Evaluation Report by MONEYVAL that was released in 2019. The Republic of Cyprus’s Financial Intelligence Unit, known as the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (or MOKAS), is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no other significant CTF-related changes in 2020.
Countering Violent Extremism: There were no significant changes in Cyprus’s CVE efforts in 2020.
International and Regional Cooperation: There were no significant changes in 2020.