Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Cyprus

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 5 August 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Cyprus, 5 August 2010, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Cyprus continued to stand as an ally of the United States in its counterterrorism efforts. The government was responsive to efforts to block and freeze terrorist assets, implemented Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, and conformed to European Union counterterrorism directives. Cyprus continued to allow blanket overflight and landing rights to U.S. military aircraft supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In January, Cypriot authorities detained the Cypriot-flagged MV Monchegorsk. The vessel, chartered by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, contained Iranian-origin weapons components allegedly headed for Hizballah that were confiscated by Cypriot customs officials after the Government of Cyprus determined the shipment was in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Cyprus's legal framework for investigating and prosecuting terrorist-related activity remained relatively weak. The United States and Cyprus cooperated closely on terrorist financing and money laundering issues. The Cypriot Anti-Money Laundering Authority implemented new UNSCR 1267 listings immediately and informally tracked suspect names listed under U.S. executive orders. The Cypriot government maintained a "Prevention and Suppression of Money-Laundering Activities Law" that contained provisions on tracing and confiscating assets.

Since 1974, the southern part of Cyprus has been under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus; the northern part, administered by Turkish Cypriots, proclaimed itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)" in 1983. The United States does not recognize the "TRNC," nor does any country other than Turkey. This de facto division has precluded counterterrorism cooperation between the two communities' law enforcement authorities, and between Cyprus and Turkey. The largely porous, lightly-patrolled "green line" separating the two sides is routinely exploited for trafficking people, narcotics, and other illicit goods, and is vulnerable to penetration by terrorist groups. Since 2007, regular ferry service between Latakia, Syria, and Famagusta, in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, has facilitated increased illegal migration into Cyprus and the wider EU. The opening in 2009 of a new route between Famagusta and Lebanon could further facilitate such migration.

In the Turkish Cypriot-administered area, issues of status and recognition inevitably restricted the ability of authorities to cooperate on counterterrorism. Turkish Cypriots cannot sign treaties, UN conventions, or other international agreements, and lack the legal and institutional framework necessary to combat money-laundering and terrorist financing effectively. Within these limitations, Turkish Cypriots cooperated in pursuing specific counterterrorism objectives.

In 2008, pressure from the international community culminated in the Turkish Cypriot-administered area being included as a jurisdiction susceptible to money-laundering by FATF, the global anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorism financing body. This designation galvanized Turkish Cypriot authorities and bankers, who quickly passed updated AML "laws" bringing offshore banks under the authority of the Central Bank. A financial investigation unit-equivalent was created and began operations.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has a presence in Cyprus. Its activities generally were fundraising and transit en route to third countries. Authorities on both sides believed there was little risk the group would conduct operations on the island. Cyprus maintained it was fulfilling all responsibilities with respect to the EU designation of the PKK as a terrorist organization.

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