Israel's Herzog in Cyprus to Ease Concerns Ahead of Turkey Visit

Herzog is expected to send the message to his Cypriot counterpart that Israel's rapprochement with rival Turkey will not harm its alliance with his country

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
President Herzog with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia, on Wednesday.
President Herzog with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia, on Wednesday.Credit: IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU - AFP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

President Isaac Herzog arrived in Cyprus on Wednesday on an official visit intended to assure that warming relations with Turkey, including an upcoming visit to the country this month, would not harm Israel's alliance with Cyprus.

Herzog is expected to send the message to his Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, that Israel's rapprochement with its rival Turkey will not affect ties with his country.

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Following meetings between the leaders, Herzog lauded Israel's relationship with Cyprus, and the tripartite alliance with Greece, as "anchors of stability" in the region.

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"I am very happy to see that the cooperation between us continues to grow in many areas," Herzog said, "from energy tourism and homeland security to emergency and innovation services."

President Herzog (left) and President of Cyprus Anastasiades (right) deliver statements in Cyprus, on Wednesday.Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

Herzog also invoked the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, calling it "a difficult reminder of the need for joint work to protect the values that are sacred to us."

"This is exactly the message I will convey on my expected visit to Turkey, as I believe in cooperation between people and all beliefs for the good of humanity," Herzog said.

Two weeks ago, Herzog visited Greece to convey similar assurances ahead of his planned trip to Turkey. His office declined to say the exact date he would visit Ankara, but Turkish media reported that his meeting with Erdogan would take place next Wednesday.

Since Herzog took office, a dialogue has been opened between him and Erdogan and the pair have spoken four times on the phone.

President Herzog (right) and President of Cyprus Anastasiades (left) in Cyprus, on Wednesday.Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

Erdogan, in his first call to Herzog, congratulated him on his election. Herzog later spoke with the Turkish leader as part of efforts to free the Israeli Oknin couple arrested while on vacation in Turkey. The two spoke for a third time when Erdogan called to comfort Herzog on the death of his mother.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also spoke with Erdogan about the Turkish president's personal involvement in the release of the Oknin couple, in a first conversation between the Turkish leader and an Israeli prime minister since 2013. Earlier last week, Herzog and Erdogan discussed for the fourth time the possibility of meeting soon. This came after some remarks by the Turkish president regarding a future meeting between the two.

Erdogan has been signaling his attempts to restore ties with Israel since the creation of the Bennett-Lapid government.

Political sources have estimated that the unconditional release of the Oknin couple from Turkey may pave the way for an exchange of ambassadors, though this has not yet happened.

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