Britain, Cyprus defence partnership deepens

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British High Commissioner, Stephen Lillie, said the UK and Cyprus enjoy a very strong deepening relationship with defence engagement key as the arrival of Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth demonstrates.

Lillie, who visited Thursday the ship docked at Limassol port, said it “is a visible demonstration of Britain’s commitment to be an active, energetic country of the world stage.”

“We have a very strong relationship between Britain and Cyprus.

“It is a relationship that is getting deeper and wider.

“Defence engagement is an important part of that growing relationship and having the Royal Navy flagship here sends a very strong signal that we want to develop that,” Lilly said.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will visit Britain’s largest warship on Saturday.

“We look forward to showing him the capabilities, the strength of the ship.

“To be able to explain what carrier strike group 21 is doing to contribute not only to UK security but to EU security as a whole and to a peaceful and stable eastern Mediterranean.

“That is very much a shared interest of Britain and Cyprus.”

British Bases Commander Major General Rob Thomson said the arrival of the HMS Queen Elizabeth effectively does three things.

“One, it underlines the British commitment to the Eastern Mediterranean to make sure that it remains secure and stable.

“Secondly, it underlines the importance of our friendship and our partnership with the Republic of Cyprus, which is really important to us in so many ways.

“Very strong people to people links, but we have an amazing partnership and friendship between the bases and the Republic of Cyprus as well.

“And thirdly, for the Bases, we have been absolutely fundamental to the delivery of the strike group in this corner of the Mediterranean.”

Captain of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Angus Essenhigh, said the ship is a state-of-the-art, 5th generation aircraft carrier.

“We are using this as a logistic stop before carrying on with our 7-month deployment away from the UK.”

The Royal Navy warship departs Limassol on Monday.

“We will go through the Suez Canal out to the Indian Ocean and beyond, and this trip will get us as far as Japan.

“We have been in the sea for the last three weeks contributing to what we call Operation Shader, an operation designed to deal with the last remaining of Daesh the terrorist group.

“So, our jets have been flying to support that mission in northern Iraq.”