Cyprus and Malta are small Mediterranean states located on the periphery of Europe that have had unusual political affiliations following independence from Great Britain in 1960 and 1964, respectively. Historically and culturally they have had Middle Eastern connections. Cyprus was the scene of Arab settlement and later Ottoman rule, and today one-fifth of the population is Muslim Turkish, while the rest is predominantly Greek Orthodox. Malta was under direct Arab rule and its language is Semitic in origin, although its population today is almost exclusively Roman Catholic. Both countries used membership in the Non-Aligned Movement and later their connections with the European Union to gain leverage in foreign relations with more powerful states, especially in matters involving the Mediterranean region. During the Cold War and its aftermath, their ties with Middle Eastern neighbors have also brought economic benefits and a greater sense of security without their having to join military alliances.

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