AKEL C.C. Press Office, 13th June 2017, Nicosia
It has been confirmed that a big military exercise of the Republic of Cyprus and Israel is currently being conducted on Cypriot territory, with the participation of 400 commandos from the Israeli army’s Special Forces, about which no official statement has so far been issued, either by the Cypriot government or by the Israeli side. However, according to the Cyprus state television channel, this exercise “is not related to the protection of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone”, but that the territory of the Troodos mountain range is being used because it has similarities with the topography and climate of southern Lebanon and southern Syria. It should also be noted that the Israeli army’s mobility on the borders of its neighbouring countries is recently intensifying.
AKEL expresses its opposition to this exercise, which not only does not serve our country’s interests, but involves it in dangerous war plans, indeed alongside an army that has been an occupying power for 50 years in the Palestinian territories. At the same time, it sends out wrong messages to the Arab world and a number of neighbouring countries with which Cyprus has always had excellent relations with. The cultivation of the concept about the formation of an anti-Turkish axis between Cyprus and Israel and other countries may seem attractive to the nationalist audience, nonetheless, as it has been repeatedly proved neither Israel, nor any other country, is going to clash with Turkey for the sake of Cyprus. The messages that are being transmitted in connection with the Israeli-Turkish energy plans should have long ago shattered whatever illusions existed.
AKEL reiterates that regional and mutually beneficial cooperation with all the states of the region is welcome, but any form of militarization of the cooperation of the Republic of Cyprus with Israel is dangerous both for Cyprus and for peace in the region. We also recall that when last March the Cyprus House of Representatives approved – with AKEL the only party voting against – the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Cyprus and Israel, even the other parties of the opposition admitted that the deal was detrimental.
The Anastasiades government is called upon to explain to the people why it is proceeding with such actions, and if it fully comprehends the dangers this entails. AKEL expresses its concern about this development and urges the government to inform the House of Representative’s Defense Committee of the expediency and character of this exercise.