Cyprus and Austria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in Military Matters.
The MoU was signed during a meeting held here today between the Cypriot Minister of Defence Christoforos Fokaides and his Austrian counterpart Hans Peter Doskozil who is currently paying an official visit to the island.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the two Ministers described the MOU as a tangible demonstration of the common will of the two countries to deepen their relations for the benefit of peace and stability.
In statements after the meeting, Fokaides thanked his Austrian counterpart for his warm interest and personal contribution to the upgrading of bilateral relations between the two countries.
He noted that Cyprus and Austria are two countries that share common values, common principles and common approaches to a range of issues in the context of their participation in the EU institutions. The two countries, he added, are committed to serving peace, freedom, stability, cooperation and solidarity between the people and international law.
Serving these principles, he continued, Austria has been standing for decades by the Cyprus, contributing with military personnel to the operation of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.
Fokaides paid tribute to the three Austrian soldiers of UNFICYP who by fulfilling their duty with self-denial and responsibility lost their lives during the Turkish invasion of 1974.
He also said that the government and the people of Cyprus are thankful for Austria`s practical help and longstanding stance of principles as regards the Cyprus issue.
The Cypriot Minister said that he had the opportunity to brief his Austrian counterpart about the latest developments regarding the efforts to find a viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem within the framework and based on the principles of the European Union. A solution, he added, without foreign custody, armies and anachronistic guarantee system.
Unfortunately, he continued, "the general observation is that the latest developments in Turkey move the country away from Europe and the rules imposing compliance with international law”.
These developments, he said, move Turkey away from the rules which require to avoid making statements or taking actions that undermine not only understanding but also stability and security in an unstable and troubled area.
In a region, the minister said, that requires the maximum possible cooperation between the countries with no tensions and the creation of security and stability which will allow for a gradual recovery in the direction of economic and social progress. Only in this way we can address the problems that lead to terrorist violence and the continuing rise of migratory flows to Europe."
We had the opportunity, he added, "to discuss all these issues but also ways of cooperating within the European Union ".
Speaking through an interpreter, the Austrian Defence Minister said that “information exchange and cooperation with European partners is essential for us, especially because of the current state of affairs on political security issues such as terrorism and immigration.”
He said that Cyprus is an important partner in the security and defence policy, adding that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding is therefore very important for us in the context of deepening of the bilateral relations between the defence ministries of Cyprus and Austria. "
“We have developed a cooperation in two main areas, the crisis management and military education,” he said, adding that “we need to work more closely in the fields of Security and Defence Policy, as well as in military training and in joint exercises.”
Since 2007, he added, Austria has successful maintain military diplomatic relations with Cyprus which we want to continue and expand. The exchange of information on EU Common Security and Defence Policy issues as well as on Migration and Terrorism issues is very important for us, he concluded.