Cyprus is pressing ahead with plans to buy an offshore patrol vessel from Israel, reports said on Tuesday.
According to daily Politis, the cabinet is soon to approve €44m for the purchase of a 50m-long ship from Israel.
The vessel’s purpose is to patrol the seas within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone. It would be neither a gunboat nor a frigate, an unnamed government source was quoted as saying.
It’s understood that neither the coast guard – essentially the marine division of the police – nor the National Guard currently possess vessels with long-range capability and able to navigate rough seas.
In addition, the same paper reported, the government is interested in acquiring two more open-seas patrol vessels from European nations, with France, Italy and Germany named as the potential suppliers.
Direct negotiations between the governments – ensuring the lowest cost – are expected to proceed in 2016.
Also, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides confirmed that Cyprus is currently in talks on acquiring from the United States two small coast guard vessels as part of the two nations’ collaboration in the fight against terrorism and asymmetric threats.
The minister said moreover the government does not intend to procure armaments from the United States even if the embargo on weapons exports to Cyprus were to be lifted, for the simple reason that the government cannot afford it.
According to published figures, the defence ministry’s budget for 2016 comes to €319m, of which €72m has been set aside for armaments.