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Kombos: we are worried about an escalation in Lebanon

Kombos: we are worried about an escalation in Lebanon

Hezbollah’s threats are not in touch with reality as Cyprus’ role in Gaza is strictly humanitarian, Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos stressed on Wednesday in a press conference with US ambassador Julie Fisher.

Nonetheless, the minister conceded he is exceedingly concerned over the risk of an escalation in the region, particularly with Lebanon.

Kombos and Fisher were discussing the latest aid shipment departing to Gaza, as well as the threats by Hezbollah’s leader that it would consider Cyprus “a part of the war”.

Fisher said the threats against Cyprus and its leadership for offering aid to Palestinians are difficult to comprehend.

“We are incredibly focused on de-escalating the situation, what we are trying to do is to achieve this ceasefire that we know will pave the way for the resumption of talks that will move this region forward,” she said.

Hezbollah had left the possibility open for a war with Cyprus if it continued to allow Israel to use its airports and bases for military exercises. The government has since stressed Cyprus is no way implicated in military operations.

The UK’s foreign office has denied hosting Israeli military aircraft or personnel on its bases in Cyprus, though a former US ambassador to Nato wrote that Cyprus offered up “its territory and waters to the US military” to prepare for a feared escalation of the war.

Kombos specified any escalation, particularly with Lebanon would be catastrophic to the region and the consequences would be serious.

We are worried about an escalation. We are concerned about finding ways for a diplomatic solution in this situation and of course, we continue to plan our activities in relation to humanitarian aid.”

Commenting on the threats, Kombos said Cyprus’ involvement was limited to offering humanitarian aid to Gaza via the Amalthea maritime corridor.

“We are trying to do our duty at a humanitarian level. Nothing more and nothing less. Anything beyond that, in my opinion, is completely baseless and not in touch with reality.”

The operation began immediately after October 7, with the only aim to offer a lifeline to the people of Gaza, he added. It has the contribution of countries such as the US and UAE, as well as the support of the UN, Kombos said.

Though there are challenges as this is an active war zone, the government is collaborating with its partners to ensure people on the ground receive the aid, he said.

Fisher heralded the fact that the press had the chance to observe what is unfolding at Larnaca port.

“We continue to push to ensure that all entry points into Gaza remain predictably operational at maximum capacity and that internal access is improved so that aid can reach people in desperate need. Aid must not only enter Gaza, but must be able to reach vulnerable communities across the Gaza Strip safely,” she highlighted.

The ambassador said US humanitarian partners continue to make every effort to provide assistance despite the difficult and often dangerous operating environment.

“Given the urgency of the needs of the Palestinian people, we continue and will continue to work with our partners, with the Republic of Cyprus and with anyone else possible to exhaust all of those options to ensure that assistance is available and ready to go when the environment allows,” she said.

Responding to a question, Fisher said the US and the international community will continue to rely on the important role that Cyprus plays. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Republic of Cyprus.”

The press conference was organised as Cyprus prepared to send a US vessel to Gaza, amid increasing reports that the US jetty may not be viable and could be dismantled.


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