Cypriot and German Defence Ministers “committed to cooperating even more closely”

The importance of further developing the defence collaboration between Cyprus and Germany was highlighted by Minister of Defence of Cyprus Charalambos Petrides and German Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht, during the latter’s visit to Cyprus on Sunday.

Lambrecht also expressed her recognition for the consistent stance and position that Cyprus has shown when it came to imposing EU sanctions on Russia.

In statements after their meeting, Petrides said that the German Defence Minister’s visit constitutes a milestone in the two countries’ bilateral defence collaboration, which extends to the facilities offered by the Republic of Cyprus to the German UNIFIL maritime taskforce contingent based in Cyprus since 2006, adding that Cyprus will continue to support Germany in this important deployment for the fulfilment of the mission’s mandate to ensure maritime security in the whole region.

Petrides added that during the bilateral meeting there were very constructive discussions in an array of issues, ranging from tangible ways of enhancing defence collaboration and pertinent issues of European, as well as regional stability.

“Our countries have only to gain through their collaboration, it comes at a time when the rules-based international order is questioned, and revisionist powers are on the rise. The effects of the illegal Russian invasion to Ukraine are more than visible and affect all of us,” he stressed.

The Defence Minister also said that the EU’s response and support given to Ukraine through our policies was also discussed, including with the establishment of the new CSDP military assistance mission for which Germany has a leading role to play, adding that he had the opportunity to brief his German counterpart about the continuing illegal Turkish military occupation and Ankara’s destabilising role with its revisionist policy vis-à-vis Cyprus and neighbouring countries, including the instrumentalisation of migration.

Petrides expressed his appreciation to the German Minister of Defence for sharing a forward-looking approach for developing bilateral cooperation, both in terms of institutional framework and military cooperation, and underlined that it is important that EU member states seek to advance their bilateral defence agenda to safeguard European security, as well as prosperity.

“We also have opportunities for cooperation within the EU framework, such as in the various European defence initiatives, the deployment and the procurement of armaments and capabilities, thus strengthening the European defence industrial base”, he continued, adding that to that end “we will work jointly for fostering a robust, as well as long-term bilateral defence collaboration with Germany that will be based on the principles of international law and the promotion of our European values.”

Petrides also recalled that earlier this year the two countries signed their first-ever bilateral defence collaboration programme and last month a defence attaché was posted to the embassy of Cyprus in Berlin.

“These steps will ensure that our cooperation will be developed in a sustained manner in the immediate future. With these visits and our in-depth consultations our cooperation received new impetus and momentum to work together in addressing mutual threats and harnessing new opportunities,” he concluded.

For her part, Christine Lambrecht thanked her Cypriot counterpart for the support Cyprus has been extending to the German contingent UNIFIL, adding that Cyprus’ support extends beyond that, as in May the two countries decided to intensify their collaboration even further.

The German Defence Minister also expressed her recognition for the consistent stance and position that Cyprus has shown when it came to imposing the EU sanctions on Russia.

“The consistency that the EU has shown vis-à-vis President Putin and also Russia is a very important message that we have sent, something that Putin did not expect, and we as partners of shared values need to continue to express that we stand by our values,” she noted.

“It is also very important for me to know that I can rely on the Republic of Cyprus in that regard when it comes to the sanction regime that was imposed due to the brutal war Russia is waging in Ukraine,” she stressed.

In such highly challenging times it is necessary to cooperate very closely both at the bilateral and at the EU level, continued Lambrecht, “and this is why as agreed we are committed to cooperating even more closely and be more engaged in the EU Common Security and Defence Policy.”

“It is an important message that the EU can send, that we are undertaking our responsibility in this very important area, and I am very happy to know that I can count on the Republic of Cyprus in these endeavours,” she said.

Asked if Germany would consider replacing Russian-built equipment in Cyprus immediately so that it can be transferred over to Ukraine, Lambrecht said that Germany is very clearly standing side-by-side with Ukraine and they express that commitment very clearly through the delivery of weapons, such as the recent delivery of the IRIS-T system to Ukraine, adding that it is crucial that we continue strengthening Ukraine, especially at this moment, so that it can protect itself from missiles and drones and we will continue to do just that.

She said that Germany is also assisting other states in exploring opportunities so that they can support Ukraine as well, but the decisions as to which country delivers what to Ukraine is a decision for each and every individual country to make, and added that within the EU and also NATO we stand united in that front and we have various formats for coordinating these issues, for example the Ramstein format, and this is where such decisions are made.

Petrides commented for his part that this issue wasn’t discussed during the bilateral meeting.

Source: Cyprus News Agency