Cyprus reacted with incredulity on Thursday to warnings from Lebanon’s Hezbollah that the island could be drawn into conflict if tensions with Israel escalate into an all-out war, Reuters reports.

Cyprus, the closest EU member state to the Middle East, was caught off guard by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s comments on Wednesday night that the island could be a target if it allowed Israel to use its its military installations in the event of an attack on Lebanon.

“The Republic of Cyprus is in no way involved in war conflicts,” Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides responded, describing Nasrallah’s comments as “not at all pleasant.”

The EU also intervened. “Any threats against our member state are threats against the EU,” a spokesperson said.

Cyprus has always considered itself above the politics of its neighbors and has offered refuge to tens of thousands of Lebanese who fled civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.

It has been pressing its EU partners to offer financial assistance to Lebanon and recently created a maritime corridor to send humanitarian aid to Palestinians threatened by famine in Gaza.

“Cyprus is a credible facilitator of stability and a recognized regional hub for humanitarian operations, based on excellent relations with all countries in the region,” said government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis.

But it also comes in the context of improved ties with Israel and the more visible involvement of British sovereign bases on the island in military operations in Syria and, more recently, Yemen. The Israeli air force is also known to carry out exercises in Cyprus’ airspace, and in recent years the two countries have held joint military exercises.

Cypriots in the divided capital Nicosia said people had enough to deal with the lingering complications of Turkiye’s 1974 invasion of northern Cyprus following a brief Greek-inspired coup.

“Last night, when I heard the news, yes, I was worried,” said Filios Christodoulou, 84.

Others didn’t bother.

“We have nothing to do with this war,” said Stella Patatini, 62. “On the contrary, we are helping peace in the region and helping the Palestinians, so I feel safe in Cyprus.”

With information from Reuters.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *