Cyprus and Lebanon’s Defence Ministers Christoforos Fokaides and Samir Moqbel, signed a bilateral military cooperation program, in Nicosia, on Monday.
In statements after the signature Fokaides said that Cyprus and Lebanon as two small countries in a tumultuous region, have both experienced the consequences of war, refugees and division.
“More than ever before today we must resume responsibility for our own future,” he pointed out, adding that this means that the people of this region should “establish communication channels allowing us to build together a future of peace, security and stability in our region.”
Referring to the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon, Fokaides said it enhances this prospect bringing at the same time closer together the EU and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Referring to the bilateral talks he held with his Lebanese counterpart he said they discussed matters of common interest such as the current security situation in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region and the geopolitical environment which is in a constant flux, as well as matters relating to maritime and energy security.
During their meeting, he added, they also focused on combating terrorism and new asymmetric threats in general as well as the grave problem of the migration crisis.
In this context the two countries will enhance their cooperation in the area of search and rescue, he pointed out, highlighting the fact that Cyprus stands ready to contribute to the training and creation of infrastructure in Lebanon.
Referring to the bilateral cooperation programme he signed with his Lebanese counterpart Fokaides said it “constitutes a powerful tool” for both ministries to further deepen their cooperation.
He said that he also briefed Moqbel on recent developments in the Cyprus problem, thanked him for his country longstanding support and reiterated Cyprus` full support of Lebanon`s difficult effort against terrorism and for the creation of conditions of security and stability in the country.
On his part Moqbel said that in his meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades he urged him “to interfere with the other members of the European community to speed up the help, concerning the Syrian refugees.”
“We need the help now and not in one year,” he stressed.
The other problem according to the Lebanese Defence Minister is “the question of fighting the terrorists all around our border”.
“I asked the President to interfere also with the European community to speed up the help in backing the Lebanese armed forces,” he said.
Apart from the military cooperation program they signed, Moqbel noted that during their talks with Fokaides they reviewed an Information Exchange Agreement, dating back to 2013 which will be ratified soon by his country’s parliament and that they also discussed a Treaty on Search & Rescue, as well as an agreement for forest fire management assistance.
Referring to the two countries’ objectives he said they aim to intensify bilateral talks, consider ways to secure our common exclusive economic zone border and deepen our military cooperation.