Cyprus is one of France’s top partners in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Captain Paul Merveilleux du Vignaux, commanding officer of French frigate ‘Auvergne’ said on Monday.

The frigate docked at Larnaca port earlier in the day as part of her Eastern Mediterranean tour which is set to last until January.

At 142 metres long, she is the fifth of a series of eight multi-mission frigates in the French fleet and has visited Cyprus 11 times since it was commissioned in 2018.

According to du Vignaux, her cutting-edge technology, especially in anti-submarine warfare, means she is manned by a crew of 150 – an unusually small number for a warship of this size.

“And, these days, the simultaneous deployment of an ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft in Paphos underlines how important France considers this part of the Mediterranean sea. Our mission here could be summed up in three words: operate, cooperate, stabilise,” he added.

Next Friday, the Auvergne will conduct a QUAD (East Mediterranean Coordinated Military Initiative) exercise with the Cyprus and Italian navies.

“This kind of cooperation underlines the quality of our relationship and also the fact that France is a credible and reliable partner,” du Vignaux said, adding the country is willing to “contribute to the stabilisation in this important area” in an impartial way.

“We are pretty sure that this vision is shared between France and the Republic of Cyprus, as a member of the EU and a top partner of France in the region”.

Du Vignaux also said that Cyprus is a “centrepiece” of strong support for the French navy’s operations in the region whether that involves port visits or aircraft deployments at its ports and airports, “where we are always very welcome and we have logistic support facilities as well, which is very appreciated by French navy.”

The captain reiterated that the Cyprus navy is a top partner to France when it comes to operations and exercises.

“It’s very important that we keep working together that way,” he said. “It is proof of our strong mutual confidence”.