Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides says he is increasingly worried about developments in neighbouring Lebanon.
The FM said that Lebanon’s precarious position could pose an immediate risk for Cyprus if ISIS continue to make advances westward.
Speaking to German channel Deutsche Welle, Kasoulides said:
“Having in mind what has happened in Mosul and in other towns in Iraq to the Christian community, but also to the Yazidis – to other minorities, or non [according to them] Orthodox Sunnis, we are in danger. And therefore whether we participate in the coalition or not, we are not exempted from this threat. On the contrary, because of the threat – and in particular our worries lays in Lebanon, we consider that if Lebanon is infiltrated or Lebanon is at risk, it means that this organization may reach the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean…and immediately after who comes next? That is our point. So therefore, this organization has to be dealt with and defeated, “ he said.
Last week it was announced that South Cyprus would donate ammunition to the Lebanese army and has also given the go-ahead for the French air force to fly sorties from an airbase in Paphos.
France became the first foreign country to publicly join United States air strikes in Iraq, but Kasoulides says that any military operations from the Cypriot base will be limited in scope.
“The French government has asked for our agreement to use the airbase of the National Guard in Paphos – the Andreas Papandreou Airbase – for their air force. It will not be the main place of their operations in Iraq, because they concentrate on Iraq, but it may be used for supportive purposes,” he told DW.
The operations from Paphos will be the first in the fight against the Islamic State launched from the sovereign territory of [South] Cyprus.
Kasoulides also said that channels between between London and Nicosia has been opened regarding airstrikes from the British base in Akrotiri.
“We have agreed on a policy of no surprises with the British government, which means we have to be informed and notified about all the intentions of the British government to the use of the bases. So far, from the independence until now the British bases have not been used as a launching pad for operations in countries of our area – and this was very good for us because our policy was that our friends – and we are friends – with all the countries of our neighbourhood should not ever feel any threat coming from the island of Cyprus,” he said.