Cypriot Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides highlighted Cyprus’ role as a pillar of stability for both Europe and the Middle East, during his address at the Economist conference in Athens.

Speaking at the discussion panel “Security Challenges for Europe and the Middle East against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil”, Petrides noted that the world is living in a difficult geopolitical context where “the only certainty is uncertainty”.

As he stressed, in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU acted with unanimity and great speed. “We immediately adopted all decisions and we understood that the only way to deal with issues of stability and security is with unity and immediate reaction,” he said.

Petrides noted that Turkey is implementing revisionist policies, which are not in line with the EU and international law.

He argued that Turkey “is playing a dual role, blaming Greece and Cyprus and threatening both in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.”

In this context, he noted that Turkey is making violations in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and national airspace, alongside its provocations in the fenced-off city of Famagusta.

As regards regional cooperation, Petrides underlined the importance of bilateral and trilateral partnerships, stressing the role of Cyprus as a pillar of stability both for Europe and the Middle East.

Petrides also argued that there is a gap in the Mediterranean that should be filled by a stronger US naval presence not only a Turkish presence, which “instrumentalises migrants and acts as a source of instability in the region”, he said.

Finally, he stressed the need for unity at the European level and the importance of respecting international law and the law of the sea.