Newsroom / CNA
The Republic of Cyprus and the United States have achieved a mutually beneficial deepening of defense cooperation during their second meeting of the bilateral Security and Defense Dialogue. The meeting took place in early June in Washington, DC, with representatives from the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Cyprus and the US Department of Defense.
Regarding the lifting of the US embargo on the sale of defense equipment to Cyprus, the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defense stated that Cyprus has already made purchases from the US defense industry, and this access allows for enhanced cooperation with the US market.
There is an existing cooperation program in place within the framework of the State Partnership Program (SPP), signed in Nicosia last March.
Brigadier General Harris Georgiou, the Director of the Defense Minister's Staff, explained that the main purpose of the meeting was to expand and upgrade the defense and military cooperation. He emphasized that specific plans for collaboration with clear objectives for the coming years are now being established.
The discussions also covered the provision of expertise by the US in the areas of cyber defense and cyber security. The intention is to expand strategic cooperation, including the possibility of an agreement on the exchange of classified information between the Ministries of Defense of both countries.
In addition, it was announced that a military exercise between Cyprus and the US is scheduled to take place later this year, building upon previous joint exercises. The delegation from the Ministry of Defense included the Chief of Staff, the Director of Armaments, the Diplomatic Advisor to the Minister of Defense, the Ambassador of Cyprus to the USA, and the Defense Attaché of Cyprus in Washington.
The Chief of Staff highlighted that the purpose of the visit was to continue the dialogue and contacts that were established during the US delegation's visit to Nicosia in September 2021. He mentioned that the third meeting between the two sides will be held in Cyprus in 2024, aiming to assess progress, set new goals, and discuss cooperation and training opportunities for Cypriot officers in the US through programs such as the International Military Education and Training (IMET).
The Chief of Staff further emphasized the importance of joint exercises with the US armed forces and requested increased presence for co-training with Cypriot military units. Training and exercises with the US armed forces are expected to continue and expand, particularly with the signing of the Administrative Facilities Agreement (ACSA), which will likely increase the presence of US warships in Cypriot ports.
Discussions also addressed the security situation in the wider Cyprus region, specifically concerning Turkey. The Cypriot delegation outlined their defense policy, which involves outreach and partnerships with Middle Eastern and Gulf states and bilateral and trilateral defense cooperation.
The Chief of Staff highlighted the security issues in Cyprus, noting that the Turkish occupation forces have been upgrading their military forces and equipment, especially technologically. He also mentioned a military base established by the occupying forces in the occupied Lefkoniko, which aims to control the broader Middle East region, potentially impacting the interests of neighboring states and those present in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Georgiou mentioned that expertise sharing in terms of cyber defense and cyber security was discussed, and there is an existing cooperation program in place within the framework of the State Partnership Program (SPP), signed in Nicosia last March. Additionally, climate change and its impact on the environment were discussed in relation to the Armed Forces.
Regarding maritime security, Cyprus has significant airspace (FIR) and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), making cooperation with countries like the US, Israel, France, and Greece crucial to ensure free navigation and the exploitation of natural resources in Cyprus' maritime area.
The Chief of Staff commended the lifting of the US embargo on the sale of defense equipment to Cyprus, emphasizing that the country has already made purchases from the US defense industry. He called on the US to end the annual assessment for the embargo renewal, as this would expand the prospects for cooperation.
Finally, Georgiou stressed that with the increase in the Ministry of Defense's budget to 2% of GDP, medium-term planning for armament programs necessary for the defense and security of Cyprus can be implemented.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]