Cypriot MPs and visiting parliamentarians from Germany on Thursday discussed the beefing up of cooperation between the two nations’ armed forces, and the replacement of the Republic’s weapons systems.
Derya Turk-Nachbaur, chair of the ‘Friendship Group’ in the Bundestag, said that Germany wishes to deepen and further strengthen ties between the two countries, adding that the common challenges they face include the expansion and management of renewable energy, climate protection and the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In their questions, the members of the German parliamentary group asked for information on Cyprus’ defence budget, the possibility of Cyprus joining Nato, as well as on the actions Cyprus has taken to replace Soviet and Russian-made equipment with US and western European equipment.
Cypriot MPs were also queried by their German counterparts on Cyprus-US cooperation in the field of defence, on migration flows to Cyprus, and on the prospect of closer cooperation between the Cypriot and German armed forces in the field of armaments.
In comments later, defence committee chair Marinos Sizopoulos (Edek) said Cyprus’ defence budget amounts to 1.5 per cent of the GDP, while arms expenditures range from €170 to €180 million a year.
In relation to weapons systems, he said that after the lifting of the US arms embargo in the last two years, efforts are being made to further augment Cyprus’ weapons systems from other countries as well.
At present, Sizopoulos said, other than France, the country that mainly supplies Cyprus is Israel within the framework of inter-state agreements.
The MP noted that replacing weapons systems is not an easy task, especially in a country with a relatively small military, adding that it takes time to adapt to new weapons systems in order to avoid a drop in the combat effectiveness of the armed forces.
On the possibility of Cyprus applying for membership of Nato, Sizopoulos asked rhetorically what Turkey’s response would be in such a case, adding that “everyone sees what is happening with Sweden’s application.”