The UK and Cyprus will step up co-operation in areas including maritime security and officer training under a new Defence programme.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides signed a Defence Co-operation Programme in the capital Nicosia today (10th February), agreeing to closer working.
Building on the agreement signed last year, the Ministers agreed that the key regional partners would now work closely across Special Forces, counter terrorism, Crisis Response, intelligence, Air Defence, hybrid warfare and cyber.
Improved Maritime Search and Rescue co-operation will be a particular focus, and during his visit Sir Michael offered Cyprus the chance to display alongside the international community at Royal International Air Tattoo 2017 and reviewed opportunities for naval personnel exchanges.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said “Britain is stepping up its global role and Cyprus is a key partner in promoting European security and stability.”
“We have now committed to strengthen our defence partnership with greater co-operation in areas such as counter terrorism, maritime security, and crisis response.”
The Defence Secretary also announced the continuing commitment to train senior Cypriot Officers at the Royal College of Defence Studies together with other training being opened up on the Advanced Command and Staff Course.
While in Cyprus, Sir Michael visited the Zenon Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, on the island’s south coast. Extending the Republic of Cyprus’ crisis response capability, the centre incorporates modern maritime surveillance and warning systems and is central to Cyprus’s efforts to tackle illegal human trafficking.
Sir Michael’s visit comes at an important time for Cyprus, following the UN-facilitated talks held in Geneva in January, and as negotiations continue towards a solution to the long-standing Cyprus issue. The Defence Secretary confirmed that as a Guarantor Power, the UK will do whatever necessary to secure a settlement and our priority is for both sides to find an agreement allowing each community to feel secure.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon met UK Armed Forces personnel at RAF Akrotiri during the visit.
The Defence Secretary also took the opportunity to thank the Cypriot Minister for their support to Op Shader, with British aircraft operating from RAF Akrotiri, and Cyprus’ own contribution including to the foreign fighters part of the campaign. Sir Michael visited RAF Akrotiri, meeting with 903 Expeditionary Airwing later in the day. Since Sir Michael’s last visit in September last year, the RAF has attacked 330 further terrorist targets in and around Mosul, working in the closest possible cooperation with the brave Iraqi troops.