USDOS – US Department of State (Author)
Overview: The Republic of Cyprus collaborated closely with the United States, the European Union (EU), and other countries – bilaterally and multilaterally – in international counterterrorism efforts in 2017.
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 United Nations (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 Republics of Cyprus and Turkey, which do not maintain diplomatic relations.
Cyprus is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and regularly participates in the Coalition’s Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Counter-ISIS Finance working groups.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In April 2017, Cyprus signed the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention of Terrorism. Draft laws regulating the use of surveillance of private communications by law enforcement and undercover activities by police officers were submitted to the House of Representatives.
The Cyprus National Police Service increased patrols of identified soft targets and critical infrastructure. The police have proactively engaged owners and managers of soft targets and representatives of the tourist industry to raise awareness about potential terrorist threats, as well as provide specialized training to private security guards.
Cyprus was preparing for implementation of the EU Directive on Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. A draft law was being finalized at year’s end and the government had begun discussions on the technical implementation of the PNR directive. Cyprus also started the process to implement EU directive 2017/541 on combatting terrorism, which will require amendments to national counterterrorism laws.
Cypriot officials participate in regular European Commission meetings on aviation security to ensure implementation of security measures required of all EU member states. Cyprus has also deployed new passenger screening technology that exceeds the current EU requirement.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Cyprus is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In July, the country enacted an amendment to its national counterterrorism laws to address recommendations by the 2015 FATF Fact Finding Initiative.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism: In addition to continuing activities cited in prior iterations of this report, Cyprus provided all secondary school directors with training on identifying radicalized behavior. The Ministry of Justice and Public Order also trained the staff of the Cyprus Youth Board.
International and Regional Cooperation: There were no significant changes since the 2016 report.