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Ankara concerned over French-Greek Cypriot deal 2 mars 2007

Posted by Acturca in France, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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Turkish Daily News

March 2, 2007 Friday

Ankara yesterday raised concerns over a defense and military agreement between France and Greek Cyprus, saying that such attempts had a negative impact on efforts aimed at a comprehensive solution to the decades-old Cyprus problem.

« The French move to sign a bilateral military agreement with the Greek Cypriot administration is a matter of concern. Greek Cyprus has no authority to conclude such deals, » said a written statement released by the Foreign Ministry. It emphasized that Greek Cyprus did not represent the northern part of the island.

On Wednesday, Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas and French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie signed the deal in Paris that foresees Greek Cypriot assistance to France in the military sphere.

Ankara said the agreement contradicted U.N. parameters for a settlement to the Cyprus dispute. « This agreement will strengthen the Greek Cypriot attitude against reconciliation and seriously harm efforts for a comprehensive solution. » It added Greek Cyprus continued to become a source of instability in the eastern Mediterranean with its recent attitude and actions, implicitly referring to another Greek Cypriot move to conclude deals with Egypt and Lebanon in the area of oil and gas exploration off Cyprus.

Paphos air base source of uneasiness:

Last year Turkey conveyed its uneasiness at the level of French authorities after similar news reports circulated on the southern part of the island and said such deals were against 1960 agreements on Cyprus and were threatening stability and security in the eastern Mediterranean.

In response, French officials have said the defense cooperation deal signed with Turkey in 2000 is more comprehensive, describing the agreement with Greek Cyprus as a standard one involving regular military exercises and exchange of military students between two EU member countries. But later Greek Cyprus has sought ways for the use by France of the Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos during the evacuation of Lebanon during the Israeli assault last summer.

Under the deal in question, Greek Cyprus will facilitate the use by French military forces of the Zigi naval base and Andreas Papandreou air base in Baf and open the way for French ship and plane access to Greek Cypriot waters and air space, according to news reports published on the southern part of the island.

Defense Minister Alliot-Marie said the agreement with Greek Cyprus would foster bilateral ties, while Lillikas said French-Greek Cypriot solidarity during the Lebanon crisis opened the window of cooperation between the two countries in the military field.

The agreement needs to get the approval of the Greek Cypriot Parliament and the French president in order to enter into force.


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