In comments after their meeting Anastasiades and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both “stressed the excellent relations between the two countries in all sectors, noting the prospects for their further deepening.” Netanyahu referred to energy, water management, tourism, public security and health as the areas of cooperation.
There was no mention by either leader, in the official announcements, to the issue of defence, which was discussed by the two defence ministers. In a post on his Twitter account Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz said: “Enjoyed meeting my friend, Cyprus’ Defence Minister today. We discussed our strong defence ties — beneficial to the entire region — and agreed to relaunch our joint military and naval training exercises ASAP, while continuing to expand our industrial cooperation.”
Cyprus Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides was quoted by Phileleftheros as saying that they discussed “the upgrading of military and defence cooperation between the ministries and the armed forces.” The building of closer relations with Israel is a commendable objective but is military and defence cooperation necessary for achieving this objective? We ask because it is difficult to see what Cyprus would gain from the upgrading of military cooperation with Israel and participating in naval exercises, considering we do not have a navy in the conventional sense. Would it improve, even marginally, the defence capability of a country without a navy or an air force?