British Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster arrives in Cyprus on Friday for a two day visit to underline the deepening defence relationship between the UK and Cyprus.
The minister will hold bilateral talks with Defence Minister Savvas Angelides, visit the British bases (SBA) to review operations, and meet British military personnel on island including those with the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp).
The centrepiece of the visit will be the signing of a renewed Bilateral Defence Co-operation Programme (BDCP) for the third successive year. The on-going programme of co-operation between the UK and the Republic of Cyprus in defence and security matters includes information-sharing, and joint activity on counter terrorism, crisis response, maritime security, search and rescue and illegal migration. Both ministers will reaffirm their commitment to a strengthening their defence partnership in order to address shared defence and security challenges.
“We value co-operation with Cyprus as a defence and security partner,” said Lancaster. “The Republic of Cyprus and the UK share similar security concerns in the region. Cyprus is uniquely well-placed as a beacon of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean to help its allies and partners understand better regional dynamics.”
He said the Cyprus government had been supportive of Britain’s use of the bases for military and humanitarian operations in Iraq and in Syria and pointed out that UK military from the bases also worked closely with Cyprus on many domestic and regional challenges, from mutual assistance with forest fires and large scale participation in Cyprus’ biggest civilian-military exercise Argonaut.
During his visit to the British bases, Lancaster will be briefed on efforts to counter the illegal trapping of birds within the SBAs. Enhanced efforts to counter bird trapping has resulted in an estimated 72 per cent reduction in the number of bird deaths within the base area in last year’s autumn migration compared to the previous year.
Lancaster’s visit follows that of the Defence Minister Gavin Williamson to Cyprus in March 2018. Angelides has also been invited to make a return visit to the UK in autumn 2018.