EU Defence Ministers Informal Meeting wraps-up deliberations in Valetta

The two-day informal meeting of the EU Defence Ministers, held in Valetta, Malta, wrapped up its deliberations today. The Meeting, presided by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Federica Mogherini, was organized by the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Yesterday, the Commander of the EUNAVFORMED SOPHIA Naval Operation, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, briefed the Ministers on the recent developments and the areas of action of the Operation. Moreover, he analyzed the current situation in the Central Mediterranean and Libya regarding the migration crisis and the illegal human trafficking from Northern Africa to Europe.

Minister Fokaides underlined the great contribution of SOPHIA operation in rescuing human beings and reiterated Cyprus’ commitment to continue to actively support the operations of the Common Security and Defence Policy of the EU, especially noting Cyprus’ contribution to the training of the Libyan Coast Guard.

The Minister of Defence, in the context of the debate on the current situation in Libya, conveyed the concerns of Egypt, as expressed during his recent visit to the country and his meetings with President Sisi and his counterpart. He stressed the importance of developing a comprehensive policy of the EU, in cooperation with Libya’s neighboring countries, and highlighted that in close seas, such as the Mediterranean, instability and insecurity could easily affect not only the wider region but the EU as well.

Furthermore, the promotion of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the field of Defence was examined by the Ministers. In his intervention, Mr Fokaides expressed Cyprus’ support to this initiative and underlined that it should be balanced and open to all member states based on qualitative criteria. Minister Fokaides noted that every initiative related to defence issues should have a visible positive impact that will reflect to the daily needs of the citizens and the need to address the security challenges. He also underlined that these challenges could be addressed only through the enhancement of the defence cooperation.

On the sidelines of the Meeting, Minister Fokaides had also bilateral separate meetings with his German counterpart, Mrs Ursula von der Leyer, with whom he signed an Agreement on the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information, and the British Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mr Mike Penning.

The Minister of Defence returns to Cyprus today.

Source: Press and Information Office