Greek Cypriots to deepen military ties with Israel and Greece
Greek Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and his Israeli and Greek counterparts Avigdor Lieberman and Panos Kammenos held their second trilateral meeting in southern Cyprus on Friday.
Greek Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides (C), Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) and Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos walk before a trilateral meeting in Larnaca, Cyprus on June 22, 2018. (Reuters)
The Greek Cypriot administration seeks to forge deeper military ties with Israel and Greece as their defence ministers met on Friday to “bolster security and more effectively counter common threats in a turbulent region,” a joint statement said.
Greek Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and his Israeli and Greek counterparts Avigdor Lieberman and Panos Kammenos said they also seek to expand cooperation on cybersecurity, joint military drills and search and rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
Lieberman said the threat of terror attacks and the challenges posed by illegal migration in a region he called “an ocean of violence” where “rogue states” operate must be met collectively.
“It’s much better to counter regional threats together, all three countries together,” the Israeli defense minister told a news conference.
The Greek Cypriot-administered south of Cyprus hosted the second trilateral meeting between the three defence ministers. Lieberman said Israel will host the next one.
The ministers also hailed the first conference bringing together Greek Cypriot, Greek and Israeli companies active in the military industry, which they say will help strengthen ties.
Kammenos said the meeting underscores a joint commitment to unite forces in order to deter security challenges.
“We agreed that the dangers and threats coming from neighbouring crisis areas constitute a wider challenge for the defence of our countries and the security of our peoples for years to come,” said Kammenos.
The Greek minister also said that a eurozone decision paving the way for Greece to end its eight-year bailout programme will positively impact the country’s armed forces.
Turkey watching closely
In a clear reference to Turkey, Angelides said closer defence cooperation poses no threat to any other country and helps secure the ongoing search for gas in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Greek Cypriot administration and Israel have discovered gas deposits off their coasts and continue searching for more.
Turkey has objected to the gas search off Cyprus, fearing that the benefits of those findings will not be shared with Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of the island.
Turkish Cypriots have remained internationally isolated since declaring the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983 after almost a decade of failed attempts to reunite the island, which was divided after a conflict in 1974.
Turkey, which according to a 1960 treaty is a legal guarantor of peace in Cyprus, has maintained security in the Turkish Cypriot north after launching a military intervention in response to a coup by the Greek junta on the island.
The coup on July 15, 1974 aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece, which was itself at the time being run by a military regime.