AKEL C.C. Press Office, 14th June 2017, Nicosia
The Ministry of Defense issued a statement yesterday to reply to AKEL on the Cyprus-Israel military exercise conducted in the Troodos mountain range, but without answering the questions raised about the purpose of this specific exercise.
Dangers for the country can’t be created by the questions posed by the opposition, but by the policies chosen and implemented by the Anastasiades government on foreign policy, as well as the messages it is conveying with its decision to invite the Israeli army to conduct exercises on Cypriot territory. “Rhetoric that involves Cyprus in regional conflicts” (Note: referring to the government’s reaction to AKEL’s statement issued yesterday) is what the state channel is broadcasting, namely that this exercise “has nothing to do with the protection of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone” and that the territory of Troodos is being used because it has similarities to the topography and climate of southern Lebanon and southern Syria, which the Ministry’s statement does not comment on. This decision follows the erroneous messages that were sent previously when the Anastasiades government abstained from initiatives undertaken even the EU itself on the Palestinian issue. Or when the governing DISY party was projecting Cyprus as a “shield of Israel” and an “outpost of the West” – against whom?
It would be preferable if instead of inviting the Israeli commandos for exercises to Troodos, the Anastasiades government were to focus on changing the positions expressed by high-ranking Israeli officials who have welcomed Turkish actions within the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and who are planning together with Turkey the passage a natural gas pipeline, bypassing Cyprus and the Cyprus problem.
For AKEL, the government’s decision to carry out this exercise does not serve neither positions of principle, nor our country’s interests. AKEL stresses that Cyprus’ role is upgraded and enhanced when it operates as a bridge of peace and cooperation among the peoples of the region, and not when it becomes a firing range for foreign armies.
Last but not least, we point out that the House of Representative’s Defense Committee had no briefing whatsoever from the Ministry of Defense about this exercise, even though the Ministry’s statement claims that it informs the Committee of all exercises. AKEL once again calls on the relevant Minister to brief the Defense Committee about this specific exercise.