Lebanon on Tuesday expressed its support for Cyprus in the face of Turkish provocations in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The issue was on the agenda of talks between Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and his Lebanese counterpart Elias Bou Saab who is visiting Cyprus.
Saab said his country understands the Cypriot position and supports it “because Cyprus is always interested in resolving these issues in a peaceful and legal way, and this is what we believe as well”.
As regards the situation in Syria, he spoke of a Turkish invasion, adding that the entire Arab League had condemned the activity of Turkey in northern Syria. “We stand by the same position that this is considered invasion and will create instability in the region. We should work with all our friends, the EU and anybody else around the world, to stop this activity because many civilians are paying the price,” he added.
He also said that he had the opportunity to talk with his Cypriot counterpart about the refugee crisis which affects both Lebanon and Cyprus. “We spoke about a way to coordinate our actions because many times even the navy in Lebanon has stopped some of the illegal immigrants that were trying to come to Cyprus,” he said.
Saab said they also spoke of the fires in Lebanon and the assistance from Cyprus which has sent two aircraft. “We are very grateful for the support you are giving us in a very fast and effective way. Your planes are now fighting fires in Lebanon, so I want to thank the Government, the Cypriot people for standing next to Lebanon in this crisis,” he said.
On the agenda was also the issue of sharing information so that both countries can closely work together for the peace, security and safety.
“We spoke about the possibility of coordinating the navy in Cyprus and the navy in Lebanon. We are both looking to extend our fleets, we are looking to extend our naval bases. We can benefit because we are facing the same future in the EEZ and the same threat in the neighbourhood,” the Lebanese minister said.
Angelides said that Saab’s presence proved Cyprus’ determination to further strengthen and deepen the bilateral relations in the fields of security and defence.
“We had the opportunity to discuss issues of common interest such as the current security situation in Syria, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the geopolitical environment. We also discussed specific measures to address terrorism and new asymmetric threats as well as ways of dealing with the consequences of the migration crisis,” he added.
“Cyprus and Lebanon maintain long standing relations of sincere friendship, mutual respect, as well as common struggles for a better, safe and peaceful future for the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean.”