DEFENCE: Greece, Egypt and Cyprus to enhance regional security cooperation

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Defence Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt said they have entered a new era of geostrategic cooperation as the emergence of new security threats in the region requires their joint threat assessment.

This was the message in a joint statement after an Athens summit issued by Greek National Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Cyprus Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and General Mohamed Zaki, Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces.

The Ministers reaffirmed that defence cooperation among the three countries aims to share knowledge and experiences and to combine capabilities and comparative advantages through participation in training programmes and joint exercises.

Cyprus, Greece and Egypt frequently conduct joint military exercises including air, naval and special forces drills.

“The Ministers agreed to maintain and intensify the increasing momentum and to further explore and develop new aspects in their defence cooperation,” said the statement.

Angelides said that the illegal Turkish actions in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) were on the agenda of discussions.

He said during the meeting enhanced cooperation between the three countries in the areas of security and safety was discussed, as well as the need for concrete actions to safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The next Trilateral Summit on regional security cooperation at Defence Minister level will be held in Cyprus, in 2020.

“The trilateral cooperation of our countries on defence and security issues will be further enhanced in 2020, showing thus that regional cooperation reinforces security and protects us against illegal and terrorist actions”, Angelides said.

The joint statement called on Turkey “to immediately cease these actions and respect the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its maritime areas, as determined by the international Law and UNCLOS”.

According to a navigational warning issued by Turkey, Turkish drill ship Yavuz has returned to Cyprus’ EEZ to carry out drilling inside block 7. Block 7 has been licensed by Nicosia to France’s Total and Italy’s Eni for hydrocarbon exploration.