Cyprus' role will be upgraded if its political problem is solved, Defence Minister says

Cyprus' role will be upgraded if its political problem is solved, Defence Minister says

Once the division of Cyprus is terminated the country will be able to upgrade its role in the region with even more credibility, Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said on Wednesday.

Addressing a conference on defence diplomacy and international relations, organized by the Defence Ministry, Fokaides noted that the ministry gives priority to policy-making in the defence sector and particularly in the international relations field and the participation in European security and defence institutions.

He also elaborated on the defence agreements which the Republic of Cyprus has signed with nearly all its neigbouring countries, as Israel, Egypt and Lebanon, adding that it is also expected to sign an agreement with Jordan.

He also referred to new agreements or military cooperation programmes the country has for example with Italy as well as agreements for classified information with certain European countries, adding that new agreements are expected to be signed in 2017 with other countries as Germany.

Fokaides also referred to the updating of the defence agreement with Russia and the forthcoming updating of the defence agreement with France, adding that there is also an important upgrading of the relations with the US.

He said that these agreements allow us to address common threats and enhance and highlight Cyprus' role as a contributor to the security of a turbulent and unstable region.

The minister said that Cyprus' role as an EU member state which promotes security in the region must be highlighted, adding that a possible settlement of the Cyprus problem will contribute even more to this direction. He noted that this is why a settlement must provide for the abolition of the anachronistic system of guarantees.

The conference was attended by defence attachés, military representatives and experts from European institutions as well as participants in EU and UN missions and by international relations and defence diplomacy experts.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its terrritory. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.

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