EU Defense Agency Chief Wants Closer Ties With Cyprus

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA — The chief executive of Europe’s defense cooperation body is urging Cyprus to forge tighter bonds with his organization to boost the divided island’s security and help streamline the European Union’s military planning and spending.

European Defense Agency boss Jorge Domecq says collectively, the EU is second only to the U.S. in defense spending but the impact of that spending is “not optimal” because it’s “fragmented.”

He said the agency’s objective is for its 27 members to spend, plan, and cooperate together although the EU has not come to the defense of Cyprus – a member – against Turkey, which wants to join the bloc but has sent warships to block foreign energy companies from drilling for oil and gas in waters where it is licensed to look.

Turkey doesn’t recognize parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) nor the legitimate government, only the occupied territory on the northern third seized in an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Unity talks have failed for decades and the last round fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove an army from the occupied territory and wanted the right to militarily intervene – invade – again.

That caused Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to walk away from the table and there’s been no real effort to resume the negotiations since with even the United Nations putting it on hold for now.

Domecq hailed Cyprus’ decision to participate in a military research program. He said closer cooperation will enable Cyprus to respond to EU citizens’ call for a better equipped bloc but didn’t explain what good that would do if the EU won’t come to the aid of one its members being harassed by another country.

Domecq was speaking after talks with Cyprus Defense Minister Savvas Angelides.

He says the agency’s objective is for its 27 members to spend, plan, and cooperate together even though the EU isn’t doing that with Cyprus over its Turkish problem.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)