Defence Minister discusses maritime security with French, Italian and Greek counterparts on the margins of FAC

Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides met with his counterparts from France, Greece and Italy, upon the invitation of the French Defence Minister, on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of the European Union which was held in Brussels on Tuesday.

After the meeting of the FAC, Petrides said that the four countries “are cooperating to consolidate maritime security and protect freedom of navigation in the Eastern Mediterranean” and in this context they are conducting jointly the annual aeronautical exercise EVNOMIA.

The four Ministers agreed to work together in order to promote within the EU issues related to Mediterranean security.

Petrides noted that the four ministers discussed “the need to explore ways to further strengthen and deepen” cooperation and that he also underlined the country’s readiness to facilitate and ensure more EU presence in the region.

Referring to the discussion held between the 27 ministers responsible for European defence and security issues, Petrides said that views were exchanged “on the most effective ways to develop European capabilities and joint defence equipment procurement programmes.”

Petrides also said that Cyprus welcomed the initiatives taken, and argued that the EU’s upgraded ambitions following the adoption of the Compass Strategy should lead “to policies that strengthen European defence industrial cooperation and effective capability development.”

“In this context, we have proposed additional incentives such as not requiring VAT payments and not including arms expenditure in an excessive budget deficit procedure. We also expressed our readiness to cooperate with other member states in joint defence equipment procurement programmes” he stressed.

The Defence Minister added that during the discussion on Ukraine, he expressed Cyprus’ support for the new Joint Defence and Security Policy training mission to strengthen the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“I underlined our readiness to participate with personnel and provide training in areas where we have expertise” he added.

Source: Cyprus News Agency