Defence Minister Christophoros Fokaides was in Israel this week to attend the launch ceremony for an offshore patrol vessel (OPV), which is being built there for Cyprus.
In Israel, Fokaides met his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman to discuss enhanced cooperation between Cyprus and Israel in the area of defence.
The agenda included cooperation on drills, armament programmes, exchange of information and cyber-defence.
The regional security environment and the fight against terrorism were also reviewed.
Fokaides attended the launch ceremony for the Republic`s first OPV bought in the framework of a bilateral agreement and being constructed in Haifa’s shipyards.
Construction of the vessel is on schedule and “constitutes the first step of an important goal set by the Ministry of Defence for enhancing the Navy,” the defence ministry said. There is no official date yet for delivery of the vessel to Cyprus.
Within the year two more tenders are expected to be complete regarding the purchase of another two OPVs and two speedboats.
Fokaides said that with the new patrol boat, Cyprus would be able to better respond to the new challenges facing maritime and energy security as well as to address humanitarian crises.
“It is also a first step of an important objective set by the ministry of defence to strengthen the navy in a way that will enhance the role of Cyprus as a security contributor to the wider region,” he added.
The acquisition of the vessel through the Cyprus-Israel inter-state agreement was another important sign of the strategic cooperation between the two countries, he added.
The defence ministry could not be reached on Wednesday to provide the delivery date, or the cost of the OPV. Previous reports have put the cost at €44m.
The notion of buying Israel patrol vessels was first mooted during the previous administration but plans were shelved in 2013 due to the financial crisis. The move went ahead again in late 2015 and early 2016.