President Nikos Christodoulides said that joint military manoeuvres with three other European Union countries in the Eastern Mediterranean underscore the bloc’s readiness to ensure regional security and stability.
Christodoulides said the drill with France, Italy and Greece is of “particular geostrategic significance” for the 27-member bloc and others, including the United States.
He said his government is putting a “special emphasis” on upgrading the island’s military installations to take full advantage of its geographical location at the southeasternmost corner of Europe and close to the Middle East and Africa.
“Our countries are pillars of security and stability.
“You understand the importance of Cyprus’ geographical position for the EU but also for other actors in the international arena”, said Christodoulides.
He spoke ahead of a visit to the French frigate Chevalier Paul, which is taking part in the drill and stressed that the show of strength is not turned against any other country — a veiled allusion to Turkey.
“We are here to cooperate, to see what prospects for further cooperation are created, and certainly, this exercise is not directed against any third country”.
The five-day drill, which began Monday and is code-named EUNOMIA 4-2023, involves naval and air forces, including French Rafale jet fighters and Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft, according to the Defence Ministry.
The exercise also includes, for the first time this year, civilian evacuation drills in the event of a regional emergency.
Britain used Cyprus as a waypoint to evacuate hundreds of its citizens from Sudan when fighting erupted between the Sudanese military and a rival paramilitary force in mid-April.
As chaos and violence engulfed the African country, many foreign countries rushed to evacuate their citizens from Sudan through complex airlifts and land convoys. (agencies)