Israel to Build Surveillance System for Cyprus Green Line
(Bloomberg) -- Israel is to develop a land surveillance system for Cyprus’s defense establishment to stem the flow of asylum seekers and illegal goods from the Turkish-controlled north of the island, in the latest sign of growing ties between the two Mediterranean countries.
The system will be developed by Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd. as part of a three-year contract worth 27.5 million euros ($32 million), said Lieutenant Colonel Christos Pieris, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence in Cyprus.
The Mediterranean island has been divided since Turkish forces captured its northern third in 1974, following an attempted coup inspired by the military junta then ruling in Athens that sought to unite the island with Greece. Since then, the majority-Greek island has been split by the United Nations Buffer Zone known as the Green Line. Turkey is the only country that recognizes the state of Northern Cyprus.
Construction of the surveillance system along the defensive line will begin immediately and will be fully operational within three years, Pieris said.
Cyprus has seen a rising number of refugees since 2015, many of them coming from Syria, and now has the most asylum claims per capita in the European Union, according to the UN Refugee Agency. “We have to check the whole line 24 hours a day,” Pieris said.
Israel, which has its own frosty relations with the Turkish government, has improved ties with Greece and Cyprus in recent years, in areas such as defense and energy.
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