On Tuesday, 16 February 2021, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, met with the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Charalambos Petridis, in the context of his official visit in Greece.
The two Ministers participated in the bilateral discussions with regard to the further reinforcement of the bilateral cooperation in the defence field. In addition, issues of regional cooperation were discussed, as well as the security and stability challenges in the wider region of the East Mediterranean. After the representations’ discussions, the Minister of National Defence made the following statement:
“Minister, dear Charalambos,
It is a great honour and pleasure to welcome today, in the Ministry, the dear friend and colleague, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Charalambos Petridis, in the context of his first official visit in Greece. Today, in our meeting, we confirmed once more the Athens-Nicosia identification, in relation to the common goals we have set, regarding the national issues and the strategy for their effective defence.
It is a strategy that bears fruit, both at the levels of the European Union and the defence alliances that we both join in the East Mediterranean, through trilateral and multilateral cooperation schemes with other states, with which we share the same values, beliefs and concerns as well.
We observe closely and with great concern the revisionary stance of Turkey and, of course, we do not forget last year’s illegal and contrary to the International Law Turkish actions in the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Territorial Waters of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the Greek continental shelf. These actions require our greatest alert and cooperation, to defend our territorial integrity and sovereign rights.
Today, in this context, we had the opportunity to discuss the latest developments and issues that concern security in the East Mediterranean and, in particular, the ways to effectively tackle destabilisation actions and hybrid warfare tactics.
Furthermore, we discussed our cooperation’s progress in the defence and defence-technical field. As you know, we systematically pursue the reinforcement of our Armed Forces’ interoperability and the full use of our countries’ capabilities and relative advantages, in various fields of mutual interest.
I would also like to express the special importance and the positive results of our cooperation in the field of the European Defence Initiatives, in the framework of which our countries participate both in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) programs and in programs financed by the European Industrial Development Program in the field of Defence (EDIDP).
My colleague Minister Petridis and I also extensively discussed ways of reinforcing and further upgrading our defence capabilities, both at bilateral and European level. We examined the likely cooperation at a “3+1” combination, with partner nations which have a strong interest regarding developments in the defence and security field in the East Mediterranean and the Middle East, like the United States of America, the presence of which in our region is of great importance.
Greece holds a firm stance and has founded its defence and security national strategy on International Law and respect of the good neighbouring principle. We are determined to defend our sovereignty and sovereign rights, as well as the national interests both of our country and of the Hellenes in Cyprus.
Athens and Nicosia, with firm national unity, face and will always continue to jointly face the challenges regarding issues of defence and security and will systematically work for the reinforcement of peace, security and stability in our wider region.
In this context, we decided to further reinforce the consultation structures between us, by creating, apart from the Intergovernmental Defence Council, a political department with our representatives’ participation, to discuss and shape defence policy and strategy.
Finally, I would like to point out the importance, with regard to our Country, the Hellenes in Cyprus and the Hellenes worldwide, of the 200 year anniversary since the 1821 Revolution. The 1821 heroes’ struggles for freedom and independence are a source of strength, inspiration and determination for our future course, for the confrontation of challenges by Greece and Cyprus and for our actions, for the establishment of an environment characterised by security, peace and prosperity in our wider region. Thank you”.
The Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus stated the following:
“Dear friend Nikos,
This is my first official visit in Greece in my capacity as Defence Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, since I assumed my duties. I am extremely happy to be here today, since my presence coincides on one hand with the 200 year anniversary from the start of the Greek Revolution and on the other hand, because conditions in the wider geopolitical environment in the East Mediterranean region impose a steady alert on behalf of Hellenism.
During all this time, with the friend Minister of National Defence, we have developed an excellent relationship. With frequent contact, excellent cooperation and actions’ coordination, we continue, aiming at the defence of our national sovereignty and we are working to promote an ambitious, regional defence policy in the East Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Besides, this is also witnessed by actions taken and actions that continue to be taken at various levels between our countries, for the joint confrontation of the Turkish provocativeness.
Recently, we had the opportunity in the 7th Cyprus-Greece Intergovernmental Defence Council to discuss important operational matters. Today, our discussions at political level aimed at looking more closely at the consultation, coordination and specification of common goals and strategy with regard to various issues.
Cyprus-Greece defence and military cooperation has deep roots and consolidation. During the last years, the cooperation has been broadened in new levels, as it is after all witnessed in the frequent multinational exercises, as well as the trilateral and quadruple cooperation. I point out, our extremely successful cooperation in research and defence technology matters, with regard to which both countries participate in many PESCO programs, with great benefits.
We work with Greece and other partners in the European Union to create a defence shield regarding our sovereignty and sovereign rights. The Greek and Cypriot seas are European as well and the Law of the Sea applies unswervingly.
Cyprus and Greece contribute essentially to the consolidation of stability, security and regional cooperation, in an area extended from the East Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf.
In contrast with the above, Turkey continues to ignore International Law; it expands the occupation in Famagusta and intensifies its threats, making use of hybrid warfare patterns. So, I would like to convey my thanks to Greece, on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus, for the love and its real support in these difficult times. I would also like to convey my thanks to the Armed Forces’ members of Cyprus and Greece for their devotion to duty and their steady operational readiness, especially during the last months.
On the occasion of the 200 year anniversary from the Greek Revolution, I wish happy anniversary to the Hellenes: in Greece, Cyprus, those of Greek descent and the Greeks abroad, all over the world. Cyprus, just like it did at all national struggles, was present in the 1821 Revolution as well. These indissoluble bonds constitute a compass for our common route towards the future. Let the flame of freedom and our heroes’ sacrifices be the guide for a better future. Thank you”.