French fighter jets pierced Cypriot skies over Paphos on Sunday morning, following multicarrier interoperability operations between NATO navies in the Mediterranean.
Local media on Sunday reported on low flights by Rafale fighter jets that showed up over Paphos in the morning around 10:15am.
According to Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides, who confirmed on Sunday that the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was in Cyprus, said the island was taking part in multilateral cooperation air defence exercises.
A week before the aircraft carrier came to Cyprus, a Rafale jet performed touch-and-go landings onboard the USS George HW Bush during multicarrier operations with Italy while sailing in the Ionian Sea. A video showed a Rafale making three attempts before the French fighter jet ultimately succeeded in hooking the arresting cable and making a successful landing on the American carrier.
“We have a very good cooperation both with the Greek Armed Forces and with other countries inside and outside the EU and in this direction the National Guard implements the bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements we have signed,” Petrides said.
The defense minister, who spoke during a visit to a military camp in Delikipos, Larnaca district, said the French aircraft carrier would be in the area for a set period of time, noting “we always act within the framework of peace and stability in the wider region of the eastern Mediterranean.”
'We have a very good cooperation both with the Greek Armed Forces and with other countries inside and outside the EU'
Petrides said the Cypriot National Guard was being modernized and strengthened to carry out its mission of being the main defender of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, while “at the same time helping to strengthen the sense of security of Cypriot Hellenism.”
Two weeks before Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, French fighter jets took off Charles de Gaulle in the Mediterranean and flew over Cyprus in a demonstration of NATO power.
The move drew split reactions on the island at a time when Russian ships were also in the area just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron met to discuss Ukraine.
Moscow, which had been enjoying a level of cooperation with Nicosia in the past, was essentially banished days after Putting ordered troops into Ukraine, with the Cypriot government making good on a promise to Washington to keep Russian navy ships at bay and further joining EU sanctions against Russia.