Cyprus has given the “state of Palestine” an embassy, even though it still says that a “Palestinian state” needs to be established through negotiations with Israel.
AFP reported Cyprus said on Friday it has upgraded its relations with the Palestinian Authority to full diplomatic mission status, one of just eight European Union countries to do so.
The decision was announced by the Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis during an official visit by the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.
“I informed my Palestinian counterpart of the decision of the government to upgrade the status of the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Cyprus from that of a Diplomatic Mission to that of an Embassy of the State of Palestine,” Marcoullis told reporters, according to AFP.
She said that this “important decision” was in line with the recognition of a Palestinian state in 1988 by Cyprus, and follows seven other EU members that have recognized a Palestinian State — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
A Cyprus Representation Office opened in Ramallah in 2009.
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.”
The PA’s ambassador to Nicosia, Walid Al-Hassan, told AFP, “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.”
On November 29, Cyprus also voted in favor of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for upgraded UN General Assembly status.
“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 told AFP.
Marcoullis said Cyprus expressed “full support” for resolving aspirations for Palestinian statehood and sovereignty and those of Israel for security, through a comprehensive negotiated peace based on a two-state solution.
Nicosia backs an enhanced EU role in efforts for renewed and substantial peace efforts in 2013.
In the months that have passed since the UN vote, Abbas has taken several steps to officially name the areas he controls “the State of Palestine”.
He first ordered all of the PA’s institutions to stop using the term “Palestinian National Authority” on official documents and replace it with the term ‘the State of Palestine’.
Abbas then issued new guidelines ordering the PA government to re-issue passports, identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver’s licenses, stamps and postmarks.
Abbas’s new guidelines dictate that a new emblem which reads “the State of Palestine” be placed on all re-issued documents.
The PA’s Minister of Communication said last month that the first stamp to carry the name “State of Palestine” will be issued for the benefit of PA diplomatic offices abroad.