Local
articles | 03 May 2013

Cyprus, Israel offshore gasfields to get navy protection

The protection of offshore gas facilities within the exploration areas between Cyprus and Israel is a top priority between the two countries, with their ministers of defence agreeing this week to raise their military cooperation to new levels.

Cyprus Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou said on his return to the island that during his meeting in Tel Aviv on Thursday with his Israeli counterpart, they also decided to set up technical committees to promote the defence issues.

He said their discussions were very productive and allowed them to examine a series of issues which relate to bilateral relations on security and energy issues. Fotiou added that the first meeting of these committees will take place in Cyprus on May 28. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and his Trade and Energy Minister George Lakotrypis are in Israel for official visits that start on Monday, where energy and security will also be on the agenda of talks.

The Cypriot minister added that “our cooperation with Israel is no threat to anyone. On the contrary, it aims to promote peace, security, stability and development in the region and it is not directed against any state”.

Fotiou did not rule out similar cooperation with other neighbouring countries such as Greece, Lebanon and Egypt, adding that Moshe Yaalon will pay an official visit to Cyprus in the next weeks.

On his part, the Israeli minister was quoted by the media as saying, "we intend to improve the preparedness of our navy in the Mediterranean to protect the gas facilities, and we certainly look forward to cooperation on this issue with Cyprus."

With four offshore gasfields already locating from 37 trillion cubic feet of potential natural gas reserves, Cyprus is considering to allow Israel’s air force to use the base at Paphos for patrols in the eastern Mediterranean to prevent terrorist attacks on drilling platforms or future pipelines.

Turkey, on the other hand, has continued its provocation and threatened to explore for oil and gas on its own within the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, despite exploration licenses being awarded to the U.S. Noble Energy, French Total, Ital;ys ENI and Seoul-based Kogas.

The two ministers also agreed to continue the joint search and rescue maneuvers as well as the possibility to expand these with other countries, such as Greece.

Source: Financial Mirror

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