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Cyprus Internet Directory [ US generally pleased with terrorism co-operation from Cyprus ]

US generally pleased with terrorism co-operation from Cyprus

CYPRUS' legal framework for investigating and prosecuting terrorist-related activity remains relatively weak, the US said in its 2007 report on terrorism.

It also said the large volume of container traffic moving through Cypriot ports in the government-controlled area made Cyprus “an attractive and convenient venue for terrorist organisations seeking transshipment points for weapons and other items of concern”.

“While Cypriot agencies responsible for non-proliferation assess only a small risk of illicit materials moving through transit cargo, the United States continued to push for increased maritime co-operation,” said the report.

Three years ago, Cyprus was the first EU member state to sign a ship boarding agreement with Washington, which provides the US with the authority to board sea vessels suspected of carrying illicit shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, or related materials.

In addition, during 2007 the US embassy in Cyprus organised and executed training programmes to assist Cyprus to create a stronger export control regime and to pursue more proactive non-proliferation enforcement.

On terrorist financing, the report said the two countries co-operated closely. It said the Cypriot Anti-Money Laundering Authority (MOKAS) implemented new decisions immediately and informally tracked names listed under US Executive Orders.

“Cyprus was responsive to international efforts to block and freeze terrorist assets, implemented the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recommendations, and conformed to EU counterterrorism directives,” the report said, but added: “Cyprus' legal framework for investigating and prosecuting terrorist-related activity remained relatively weak.”

As far as other support to the US in 2007, Cyprus continued to allow blanket overflight and landing rights to US military aircraft supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report said.

It also referred to the presence of the Kurdish PKK group on both sides of the island. The US considers the PKK to be a terrorist organisation.

“The KGK/PKK has a presence in Cyprus, although its activities generally were limited to fundraising and transit en route to third countries; authorities believed there was little risk the group would conduct operations there,” said the report.

“Cyprus maintained that it was fulfilling all responsibilities with respect to the EU designation of the KGK/PKK as a terrorist organisation.”

In reference to the north, the US report said issues of status and recognition inevitably restricted the ability of authorities there to co-operate on counterterrorism.

“Turkish Cypriots cannot sign treaties, UN conventions, or other international agreements, for example. Moreover, the Turkish Cypriot-administered area lacked the legal and institutional framework necessary to meet minimum standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing effectively,” the report said.

It said the Turkish Cypriot community's financial sector was vulnerable to abuse by criminals and terrorists but that within the limitations, Turkish Cypriots co-operated in pursuing specific counterterrorism objectives.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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