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Cyprus president in Israel to sign quarantine-free travel deal for vaccinated

Agreement will mutually recognize coronavirus vaccination documents, enabling the inoculated to travel freely between the two countries; expected to be implemented in a month

President Reuven Rivlin (R) welcomes Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to his residence in Jerusalem, January 14, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin (R) welcomes Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to his residence in Jerusalem, January 14, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades arrived in Israel Sunday for a series of meetings with high-level Israeli officials to finalize a deal for the two countries to mutually recognize each other’s “green passports,” enabling the vaccinated to travel freely from one nation to the other.

Anastasiades met with President Reuven Rivlin Sunday morning and is set to meet both Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the day.

“As the coronavirus has shown us, today’s challenges know no borders and we must work together in order to meet them,” Rivlin said, welcoming his Cypriot counterpart to the president’s Jerusalem residence. “I am pleased with the recent understandings that will allow the renewal of flights between Israel and Cyprus and call on more countries to adopt the ‘green pass.’”

Speaking alongside Rivlin, Anastasiadis praised the “warm relations” between Israel and Cyprus and said, “I would like to express my deep appreciation for Israel’s support of Cyprus at this difficult time.”

“We have an ambitious plan of action for cooperation between our countries, and between our diasporas. I would be very happy to welcome you to my country as soon as possible, before the end of your term of office,” Anastasiadis said. Rivlin ends his seven-year term in July.

President Reuven Rivlin (R) welcomes Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to his residence in Jerusalem, January 14, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Details of the deal were expected to be released after Anastasiadis’s meetings at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Last week, Israel and Greece announced a similar deal to mutually recognize each other’s coronavirus vaccination documentation.

Israel, Greece, and Cyprus have friendly relations, including over gas production in the Mediterranean, and all have a tense relationship with Turkey, which seeks to expand its fuel production in the region.

Yiannis Karoussos (C), Cyprus’ minister of Transport, Communications, and Works, greets with an ‘elbow shake’ the first passenger arriving from Israel at Cyprus’s Larnaca International Airport on June 9, 2020 (Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP)

Hebrew media speculated that the deals would be enacted shortly after the Passover holiday, which begins late next month. The cabinet last week voted to extend the shuttering of Israeli skies until February 20.

Israel is also negotiating a deal with the United Kingdom and Estonia on a travel corridor between the countries for the vaccinated, according to Army Radio, and is said to be in talks about enacting similar agreements with Romania, Serbia, Georgia and Seychelles.

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