Cyprus officially upgraded a Palestinian diplomatic mission’s status on its soil to a Palestinian embassy. Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis met with Palestine’s Riyad al-Malki to commemorate the upgrade. Cyprus was one of the many countries last year that backed Palestine’s victorious attempt in the UN General Assembly to change Palestine’s United Nations observer status to a non-member observer status.
Cyprus is also one of the eight EU countries (including Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary) that recognizes the state of Palestine.
There are approximately 103 Palestinian representative buildings, diplomatic missions & embassies all over the world and Cyprus’s decision to elevate a diplomatic mission of Palestine to that of an embassy is a rare sight; and a welcome step forward for Palestinians who strive for a greater representation of their people & state in the international community.
Though Cyprus has economic bonds with Israel’s government, the party which was the most unhappy when Palestine procured a near-membership status in the United Nations, Cyprus has been aiding Palestinians with multiple financial programs that include scholarships and development projects that amount over 2 million U.S. dollars since the late 1980′s.
As the Israeli government pushes ahead with its controversial settlement development in the Palestinian zones on the infamous West Bank, support for the state of Israel has waned considerably among the international community following the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident and the continuing human rights abuses at the hands of Israel’s security forces.
Countries such as Cyprus have gone far in their condemnation of Israel’s actions regarding the building of settlements on Palestinian land and the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip.
Though the Obama administration also had surprising altercations with Netanyahu’s Israeli government, the United States continues to support sanctions on Iran and the blocking of Palestine from becoming a full fledged member in the United Nations.
Palestine’s Malki stated that Cyprus’s decision as a European state to upgrade a diplomatic mission to embassy sent a very “important message” and that the “courageous step taken by Cyprus will be taken by others in the European Union.”