Cyprus

Overview:  The Republic of Cyprus (ROC) collaborated closely with the United States, the European Union, and others –— bilaterally and multilaterally – in international counterterrorism efforts in 2022.  Since 1974, the island of Cyprus has been de facto divided into the ROC government-controlled area in the southern two thirds of the island and the northern third administered by Turkish Cypriots.  A UN peacekeeping force patrols a Buffer Zone, also called the Green Line, that separates 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 ROC and Türkiye, which do not maintain diplomatic relations.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no reported terrorist incidents Cyprus in 2022.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Since 2020 there have been no changes to the ROC’s legal system pertaining to counterterrorism.  ROC authorities arrested six individuals suspected of planning an attack on a prominent businessman residing in Cyprus.  The individuals were charged with terrorism and are awaiting trial.  The U.S. Department of State’s Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) program funded the construction of a $7 million regional security training center, the Cyprus Center for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS) in Larnaca.  The facility became operational in March.  Since then, the center has hosted 400 training participants from nine different nations.  The center strengthens regional border security, counterterrorism, and nonproliferation efforts, including customs and export controls, port and maritime security, counter-IED training, and cybersecurity.  Training has been provided on various counterterrorism-related topics, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction investigations; prevention, detection, and investigation of chemical and biological weapon threats; and WMD incident response and countering WMD-enabled drones.

In January 2021, the Cypriot National Police executed a search warrant and arrested a Syrian national based on his violation of ROC terrorism laws and for providing material support to ISIS.  The Ministry of Justice prosecuted the individual in 2022, resulting in a conviction under article 9 of the National Law 75(1)/2019 for providing material support with the intention to commit or to contribute to the commission of a terrorist offense.  This case was the first ISIS-related counterterrorism conviction in Cyprus.

The ROC participated in an Embassy Nicosia-facilitated, National Counterterrorism Center-led International Counterterrorism Exercise in September.  The exercise provided all key ROC ministries and responders with an opportunity to discuss their current state of readiness for a mass-casualty terror event response.  Separately, EXBS has trained 40 ROC government personnel to serve as trainers at CYCLOPS and to develop their own capabilities.  The main ROC partners for this training are Port and Maritime Police, Customs, Civil Defense, the National Guard, and the Digital Security Agency.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  The ROC is a member of MONEYVAL (the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism). Its FIU, the Unit for Combating Money Laundering, is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism:  There were no significant changes in Cyprus’s CVE efforts in 2022.

International and Regional Cooperation:  The ROC participates in regional and multinational counterterrorism exercises with partners including Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Jordan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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