Defence Minister discusses bilateral relations, EU defence cooperation and terrorism with French counterpart

Bilateral relations, EU defence cooperation, terrorism and the Cyprus issue were on the agenda of a meeting the Cyprus Defence Minister Christophoros Fokaides had with his French counterpart Sylvie Goulard in Paris.

An announcement issued on Monday by the Defence Ministry says that they also discussed issues of mutual interest and the latest steps taken in the deepening of defence cooperation in the European Union.

Regional security issues in the Eastern Mediterranean and the threat of terrorism were also discussed. The Minister had the opportunity to brief his counterpart on the initiatives taken by Cyprus to promote regional cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean with a view to promoting stability and security.

In particular, he pointed out the need to set up a more secure and safe environment as regards the energy prospects in the wider region.

Fokaides also briefed the French Minister on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, stressing that the 1960 anachronistic system of guarantees and security can no longer exist on the island, which is a member of the EU.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-backed talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.

A fresh Conference on Cyprus will reconvene on June 28 at the political level, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Conference will take place with the participation of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, as well as Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom as guarantor powers, and in the presence of the European Union as an observer.

Two months ago, Cyprus and France signed a new defence agreement that extends and deepens the defence relations between the two countries in the fields of education, exercises, armaments, cooperation on asymmetric threats, maritime cooperation etc.

In this context it was announced that an attache will be placed in Paris next September. At the same time a senior officer will also travel to Paris for one year to attend the French War School.

Fokaidis, who was accompanied by Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defence and the Ambassador of Cyprus to France, attended the official opening ceremony of the 52nd Le Bourget Air Show, in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Minister returns home on Tuesday and he will meet with his Italian counterpart Roberta Pinotti who begins a visit to the island and will be received by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

Source: Cyprus News Agency