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Cyprus and Italy agree on closer defence cooperation

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Cyprus Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini agreed to closer coordination and cooperation on issues of energy security in the island’s EEZ and the wider Εastern Mediterranean.

According to an official statement, Angelides and Guerini discussed on Tuesday in Rome recent developments in the East Med region including Turkey’s illegal drilling activities within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Ankara has warned international oil and gas companies to stay away from exploring off Cyprus while Italy’s Eni is one of the major players in the island’s energy search with several planned drills over the next 24 months.

France’s Total and Eni are the biggest players in the island’s energy quest, holding exploration licenses for seven of the 13 blocks. Korea’s Kogas is also a partner in three of those concessions.

Angelides informed his Italian counterpart that Turkey’s activities create instability in the eastern Mediterranean and pose another obstacle to the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and President Nicos Anastasiades to resolve the Cyprus problem.

Guerini briefed Angelides on Italy`s efforts to de-escalate the crisis in Libya and to reach a ceasefire agreement.

Nicosia – backed by Brussels – is opposed to Turkey’s maritime and security accord it signed with Libya

The Ministers also discussed Cyprus-Italy co-operation in the framework of the Joint Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) programs, focusing on upgrading maritime and airbase infrastructures and their use in the framework of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy.

A Bilateral Cooperation Program 2020 was signed, with both Ministers agreeing it was tangible proof of the two countries willingness to further deepen and strengthen their cooperation in the field of defence and security.