Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 1 - Cyprus

Overview: The Republic of Cyprus collaborated closely with the United States, the EU, and other countries – bilaterally and multilaterally – in international counterterrorism efforts in 2018. Cyprus’s counterterrorism partnership with the United States included participation in a Department of Justice regional program focused on countering Hizballah, which was funded by the Department of State. The program strengthened Cyprus’s understanding of Hizballah and stressed the importance of interagency cooperation in countering all types of terrorism.

Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the Republic of Cyprus government-controlled area, composed of the southern two-thirds of the island, and the northern third not under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, which is administered by the Turkish Cypriots. The UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus patrols the UN buffer zone, also called “the Green Line,” which 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 Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, which do not maintain diplomatic relations.

The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

2018 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Cyprus in 2018.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Republic of Cyprus passed but has not fully implemented a law regulating undercover activities by police officers, and it is still determining the details surrounding new training required by the legislation. The House of Representatives has been considering a draft law regulating the use of surveillance of private communications by law enforcement since 2017.

In December, the Republic of Cyprus approved a law pertaining to the EU PNR Directive and continued its preparations for implementation. As of the end of 2018, however, the Republic of Cyprus did not have an API contract and consequently was not receiving API on arrivals from most non-EU states. Cyprus also continued the process to implement EU directive 2017/541 on combating terrorism, which will require amendments to national counterterrorism laws. At the end of 2018, these amendments were pending in the House of Representatives.

Cyprus continued to monitor entry through its airports, seaports, and across the UN buffer zone, but it is unclear how effectively and uniformly watchlist data was employed across all points of entry. Cyprus began using biometric data to screen some travelers at peak travel times at Larnaca and Paphos international airports through the installation of kiosks that collect traveler biometric data and analyze it against watchlist data. The program for the biometric kiosks became permanent after a trial period ended in 2018.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Republic of Cyprus is a member of MONEYVAL and is undergoing a mutual evaluation report by MONEYVAL in 2018-19. The Republic of Cyprus’s FIU, the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS), is a member of the Egmont Group.

In 2018, the Republic of Cyprus published its first National Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment (NRA). Utilizing the World Bank’s money laundering/terrorist financing (ML/TF) risk assessment tool, the Central Bank of Cyprus and MOKAS engaged relevant stakeholders to produce the NRA, an extensive analysis and self-assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities posed by ML/TF in the Republic of Cyprus. The NRA recommended amendments to the Combating of Terrorism Law of 2010 and the AML/CFT law to incorporate the definition of terrorist financing required by the Fourth EU AML Directive, and highlighted the need for capacity building and training of all reporting entities on terrorist financing techniques, methods, and trends.

In 2018, the Central Bank of Cyprus issued circulars to compliance officers in AML/CFT regulated entities setting out risk-based enhanced due diligence requirements with regard to shell companies/entities and identities of ultimate beneficial owners. As a result, thousands of noncompliant bank accounts and companies have been closed. While many of the closed accounts likely were associated with illicit financial activities, data is not available as to whether any were associated with terrorism.

For additional information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism: There were no significant changes in Cyprus’s CVE efforts in 2018.

International and Regional Cooperation: There were no changes in 2018.