NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’s foreign minister said the Palestinian diplomatic mission to her country has been upgraded to embassy status.
Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis said after talks with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki on Friday that the upgrade is in line with Cyprus’s recognition of Palestinian statehood in 1988 along with seven other European countries that have also since become European Union members – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
Marcoullis said Cyprus expressed “full support” for resolving concerns of Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty and those of Israel for security, through a comprehensive negotiated peace based on a two-state solution.
A Cyprus Representation Office opened in Ramallah in the West Bank in 2009.
Cyprus supported the Palestinians’ successful bid last year in the United Nations General Assembly to elevate their status from UN observer to nonmember observer state.
Malki said the decision sent a “very important message,” adding: “We hope this courageous step taken by Cyprus will be taken by others in the European Union.”
Malki said there are some 100 Palestinian diplomatic missions around the world, most of which have full embassy status.
“Now we have diplomatic representation in Cyprus like any other country in the world. This applies to our legal situation and the immunity which accompanies diplomatic status,” Palestinian Ambassador to Nicosia Walid Al-Hassan told AFP.
“All official correspondence will now be done in the name of the State of Palestine. Cyprus is the first European state to upgrade Palestinian status since the UN vote,” Hassan said.
In July, Cyprus authorities detained a Lebanese man carrying a Saudi Arabian passport on suspicion of being involved in planning a terrorist attack on Israeli tourists on the island. The man is suspected of trying to blow up a plane or a bus carrying Israelis. He had allegedly obtained details about an Israeli plane and had taken pictures of Israeli targets in the southern coastal town of Limassol.
Foreign reports said the Mossad had helped the Cypriot authorities in thwarting the plot.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the suspect as a Hezbollah terrorist and said Iran bore responsibility for the plot.