Defence Minister highlights Egypt’s key role in promoting security

Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said on Tuesday that Egypt plays a key role as regards security not only in the Middle East, but also in the Arab world and in Africa, underlining that the two ministries will continue to enhance their cooperation in 2018. He was speaking after talks he held in Nicosia, with his Egyptian counterpart, Sedki Sobhi with whom he signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on Aeronautical Research and Rescue.

On his part, Sobhi, who is paying an official visit to Cyprus, said that the two countries Defence Ministries aim to continue their cooperation, coordination and deliberations, noting that their talks focused on the strategic security situation in the Middle East, given the multiple crises, tensions and armed conflicts in the region and the subsequent increase of challenges and threats on the two countries security and stabilit, as well as the repercussions at the regional and international level.

Fokaides and Sobhi will participate along with the Greek Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos in the first Trilateral Meeting among the Defence Ministries of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt that will take place on Thursday in Nicosia.

Sobhi welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between Cyprus and Egypt, noting that they agreed with Fokaides to reinforce the two countries’ military cooperation in various fields and in particular as regards joint exercises, military training and exchange of expertise.

We focused on common threats and ways of cooperation in order to address them, and more specifically on terrorism, extremism and illegal immigration, as well as on ways to safeguard our countries’ interests in the Eastern Mediterranean region, he noted, according to the interpretation of the statements he made in Arabic.

In his statements, Fokaides said that today they decided to continue their cooperation through joint training, exercises, exchanges and joint programmes, with a view to address common threats.

He noted that the relations between Cyprus and Egypt have always been excellent, noting that during the last years, due to the visionary policy of the two countries’ leaders, Nicos Anastasiades and Abdel Fatah al Sisi, our bilateral relations have bloomed in an unprecedented way” and that significant progress has been achieved in almost all fields, as energy, economy, trade, education and agriculture.

Fokaides highlighted the importance of the two countries’ strategic cooperation in the fields of defence and security, and noted their joint effort to promote stability and security in the broader region, in this unstable neighbourhood.

He also expressed Nicosia’s firm position within the EU that Egypt must be further supported in a more tangible way, noting that Egypt has a pivotal role to play in addressing the issues of terrorism, migration, maritime and energy security in the Eastern Mediterranean and stability in the region.

Fokaides noted that this is the first official visit an Egyptian Defence Minister is paying to Cyprus, and Sobhi’s second visit to the island, noting that two years ago they signed the first agreement on military cooperation and that since then they have signed programmes of bilateral military cooperation.

Referring to the talks they had on Tuesday, Fokaides said they discussed current developments and challenges which must be addressed with a prudent way, as he noted, avoiding tensions and extremist behaviour.

He noted Cyprus’ concern over the latest developments concerning Jerusalem and reiterated Nicosia’s position that the city’s status must be determined in the framework of negotiations among the interested parties.

He also expressed Cyprus support to the Egyptian people in their struggle to address extremist terrorism and underlined that the relations between Cyprus and Egypt will continue to be upgraded within the next period.

Moveover he thanked his Egyptian counterpart for his countrys long-standing principled position on the Cyprus problem and its valuable support during the last years within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated UN-led peace talks have yet to lead to a political settlement. The latest such effort in July this year ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency