May praises efforts of British troops in Cyprus to support stability in the Middle East

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has praised the efforts made by British troops in the battle against Daesh and in trying to maintain stability in the wider region of the Middle East.

May on Friday paid a brief visit to the British Sovereign Base in Akrotiri, on Cyprus southern coast, where she addressed approximately 200 soldiers serving with the SBA.

She also thanked Cyprus as the UKs hosts for all they do to enable you to operate from here.”

May conveyed a message of gratitude to the soldiers serving in Cyprus, saying that she wants to say a big “thank you” for working to bring peace and stability to this region.

Here in Cyprus, you are at the epicentre of so much of our military activity in the region. It is from here that you have conducted more than 1.600 air strikes against Daesh targets and supported more than 1.450 personnel working with our allies and partners in Jordan and Iraq to fight Daesh and prevent its re-emergence she pointed out.

She said that their activities and efforts have made a difference as just three years ago, Daesh declared a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, a safe haven in which to carry out the most barbaric acts and from which to plot murder on our streets at home, but today, thanks to a very large part to your efforts, that so-called Caliphate has been crushed and no longer holds significant territory in Iraq or Syria.

You should be incredibly proud of that achievement, she told the soldiers.

The British Premier said that it is necessary to continue to deal directly with the threat they still pose in the region, but at the same time focus on training the Iraqi Security Forces so they can keep Daesh out, which is why the work we are doing, and you are supporting, to train over 60,000 Iraqi security personnel is so vital, as I saw first-hand on my visit to Baghdad last month.

“It is also from here in Cyprus that you are sustaining our efforts to support the wider stability of our allies in the Middle East, she added.

She said that these efforts include the expansion of the Quick Reaction Force in Jordan and the United Nations on Operation TOSCA to help keep the peace at the buffer zone through Nicosia.

She underlined that as conflicts and tensions fuel instability across the Middle East, it is not just the security of that region which is threatened, but the whole international order on which global security and prosperity depends.

As Daesh seeks new ungoverned spaces from which to plot and carry out attacks, it is not just in those spaces that security is at stake but in the UK too.So it is vital that we support the stability of our partners across the Middle East, she said.

May said that this is an important part of the work that the UK is doing in fulfilling its international responsibilities as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

And I am clear that as a global Britain we will honour those responsibilities and continue to play a leading role in upholding the values and rules of the international order on which we depend. As part of this, I have committed to ensuring that we continue to meet our NATO commitment to invest 2 per cent of our GDP on defence and to spend 0.7 percent of GNI on development, she added.

May praised the soldiers professionalism, courage and sacrifices, saying that all these give meaning to the pledges we make as a nation.

It is you who take down our enemies and stand by our allies when the going gets tough, she said.

The Premier also thanked Cyprus as UKs hosts, for all they do to enable you to operate from here.”

And I think I speak for everyone here when I say that this is a special place – something of a home from home – for the British armed forces, she said.

The UK has retained two sovereign military bases in Cyprus, one in Akrotiri and one in Dhekelia, since it granted Cyprus its independence in 1960, following a four-year anti-colonial liberation struggle.

Source: Cyprus News Agency