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Cyprus

Bilateral military agreement signed with UK

A programme for bilateral military cooperation was signed on Friday during a meeting in Nicosia between Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and British Minister of State for Armed Forces Mark Lancaster.

According to an announcement, Angelides and Lancaster discussed issues of bilateral cooperation in the field of security and defence, and the security situation in the broader region of the Middle East.

They furthermore reaffirmed their will to continue and further enhance cooperation in defence matters.

The signing of the Bilateral Defence Co-operation Programme (BDCP) 2018-2019 reflects the will of Cyprus and the UK to further upgrade relations in the sector of security and defence, the announcement said.

This is the third successive year that the BDCP between the two countries has been renewed.

Co-operation between the UK and 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.

Lancaster had said that 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 also 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.

The British official arrived in Cyprus on Friday for a two day visit to underline the deepening defence relationship between the UK and Cyprus.

The minister was to also visit bases (SBA) to review operations and meet British military personnel on the island including those with the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp).

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.

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