France-Cyprus defense cooperation pact takes effect

Aug. 7 (UPI) — A defense cooperation agreement between France and Cyprus, three years in the making, is now in force, the Cypriot government announced this week.

The two-year agreement “provides for cooperation in the fields of armaments and defense technology, and staff training in France’s military schools,” officials said.

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Leaders also agreed to “hold joint exercises and organize mutual visits in the framework of activities of the armed forces of the two countries,” Charlambos Petridis, current Cypriot defense minister, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, former Cypriot Defense Minister Savvas Angelides announced improvements to a navy base in the port of Limassol to accommodate French military vessels.

The agreement calls for improved teamwork between Paris and Nicosia in defense technology and search and rescue execution.

Non-military elements of the agreement include cooperation in dealing with energy, maritime security, terrorism and piracy. It was signed in 2017 and put into force of Aug. 1, 2020, the two governments said on Friday.

Cyprus, an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, is a European Union member, but not a NATO member. Its military uses aircraft made by several countries, including France.

The agreement is part of an effort by France to exercise more influence in the region.

In July, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades met with French President Emmanuel Macron, prompting Macron to call on the EU to come down harder on Turkey for provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

“Macron is working toward that direction,” Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said of France’s aspiration to wield more influence. He added that Macron will lead a meeting of seven southern EU member states in Paris at the end of August.

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