The French Defence Minister, Florence Parly, who met on Tuesday with President Nicos Anastasiades and her Cyprus counterpart Savvas Angelides, expressed France’s solidarity with Cyprus, which she said is under intense pressure when seen from an international perspective.
France is an ally of Cyprus, the Minister of the Armed Forces of France said following her meeting with the Cyprus President and Defence Minister at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday.
The island is under pressure, Parly said, and this becomes clear when the situation is seen from an international perspective.
“Our solidarity is expressed in several ways,” Parly told media outside the Palace. “We have strong bilateral cooperation with Cyprus, Cyprus ports often host our navy – and we are thankful for this - and Cyprus also contributes to the effectiveness of our aircraft carriers’ missions.”
She also highlighted that “we [France] express our solidarity with Cyprus and what is going on in its EEZ.”
According to the Deputy Government Spokesman, Panayiotis Sentonas, the President’s meeting with Parly was highly important, as it also involved a discussion on ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation, particularly in the defence sector.
Later in the day, Parly will be visiting the flagship of the French Navy, aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, currently stationed in the region. The vessel will be returning to the Limassol port on February 21 for five days, a period when Cyprus and France are set to hold additional joint military drills.
On Monday, Cyprus and France staged a joint military exercise, during which French Rafale fighter jets, which took off from the Charles de Gaulle, put the capabilities of the Cyprus army’s anti-aircraft umbrella to the test.
The recent period has seen a bolstering of the French relations with Greece and Cyprus, particularly along the lines of defence, a front which Cyprus has recently been boosting, most notably through the purchase of missiles from France, worth €240 million.
In an interview with Bloomberg published on Tuesday, Anastasiades said that “the strong French presence brings hope that the European Union will take a more active role in eastern Mediterranean issues.”
Anastasiades charged that the international community have failed to counter Turkey’s moves in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, or its plan to open up the walled-off town of Varosha in the north.
“There’s no decisiveness from countries to take appropriate measures and this raises the danger of conflict,” Anastasiades told Bloomberg, noting that France is the only country that’s taken an active role in the region.
As Bloomberg reports, tensions in the region go beyond military posturing, commercial issues are at stake too, as countries are scrambling over the rich hydrocarbon resources hosted in the waters around Cyprus.