French frigate sails in Cypriot waters amid East Med tensions

Source: Xinhua| 2020-08-19 21:28:44|Editor: huaxia

NICOSIA, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- A French frigate was sailing inside Cyprus' territorial waters in the context of a defense agreement between the eastern Mediterranean island and France, Cypriot Foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides said Wednesday.

Cyprus News Agency reported earlier that "la Fayette" frigate sailed close to Cyprus' eastern coast after receiving permission from the Cypriot government to train its crew in diving, before resuming patrols in the open sea.

It added that the frigate would stay close to the Cypriot shores for the whole day on Wednesday before returning to patrol duties "in the context of monitoring the eastern Mediterranean."

"The presence of the French frigate in the region is sending out a message that security and stability in the eastern Mediterranean can be achieved through such defense cooperation," Christodoulides was quoted by Cyprus's state radio as saying.

Cyprus and France signed a defense cooperation agreement in April 2018, and it came into force as of Aug. 1, 2020, according to a statement by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

The agreement provides for cooperation between Cyprus and France in the fields of energy and maritime security, early warning and crisis management, as well as combating terrorism and piracy.

"La Fayette" was operating close to two Turkish ships being active in waters declared by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone.

Barbaros, a survey ship, and Yavuz, a drillship prospecting for natural gas, were reportedly in an area off the eastern coast of Cyprus, after having been licensed by the Turkish Cypriot state, which is recognized only by Ankara. The two ships were being protected by Turkish frigates.

Turkey repeatedly accused France of cooperating with the Cypriot government and Greece in trying to deprive Turkey of its rights on what it considered to be its continental shelf. It also said that France has no littoral interests in the eastern Mediterranean.

Two French Rafale planes have also been sent to an airbase in western Cyprus to train with Cypriot military units, according to local media reports. Enditem