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French aircraft carrier to dock at Limassol in show of support

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France’s Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier will call at Limassol port next month during its mission in the Eastern Mediterranean in a visible show of support for Cyprus as tensions in the region remain volatile.

Limassol is the only port the aircraft carrier will be visiting during this mission; the French Ambassador Isabelle Dumont told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

“By the end of its mission Charles De Gaulle will make a port call in Limassol which shows the very strong relationship that we have between France and Cyprus,” said Dumont.

She said the Charles De Gaulle mission has to do with fighting terrorism in Syria and Iraq, “it goes along with the permanent naval French presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and demonstrates the will of France to act as a stabilizing factor in the region”.

While the aircraft carrier group is working on this operation, it will also be carrying training exercises with Cypriot naval and air forces.

Dumont said that the mission of the French aircraft career has four objectives.

“The first is to secure and control the Mediterranean region, the second is to reduce the destabilization in this area, the third is to fight against Jihad terrorism and last but no least is to ensure the freedom of action and navigation in the Euro Mediterranean region.”

“The mission is taking place in the framework of operation Chammal which is the French part of the international coalition against Daesh in Syria and Iraq that started in 2014. The Charles De Gaulle will stay in the region for a few weeks and is accompanied by ships from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Greece.”

The ship is expected in Limassol at the end of February, the only port in the region it will be staying at.

“I think this can be taken as a symbolic sign of the excellent relationship that we have between France and Cyprus.”

Naval base

Nicosia and Paris have signed a letter of intent for the French navy to use of Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari.

“We are still working on this. The idea is to enlarge this Cypriot naval base with the support of France, and we are still in the process of discussing that.”

The Ambassador expressed France’s interest in joining the East Med Gas Forum whose Foundation Charter was signed earlier this month in Cairo by Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine.

“We think that the East Med pipeline is a very interesting initiative. The aim of the EU is to diversify its origins of gas supply and therefore this initiative could be part of such a goal that we should all have together.”

Dumont expressed France’s strong opposition to Turkey’s illegal activities in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and described the Turkey-Libya maritime accord as a  “pseudo agreement”.

France also backs targeted EU sanctions against Turkey for invading Cyprus waters to drill for hydrocarbons.

“We support Cyprus in this because we think that it seems that it is the only way to get Turkey to step back and this is our objective. Our objective is not to put more and more sanctions against Turkey but to have Turkey respect international law.” (source CNA)