The flagship of the French Navy, aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, will be docking at Limassol port at the end of February, prior to the wrapping up of its Eastern Mediterranean mission, Ambassador of France to Cyprus Isabelle Dumont told the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday.
Showcasing the fortified ties between France and Cyprus, which are now extending well beyond the diplomatic level, the Limassol port will be the only visit the aircraft carrier will be making on its mission, which French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced will be completed in April.
Dumont expressed France’s staunch opposition to Turkey’s illegal manoeuvres in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), referring to the maritime accord signed by Turkey and Libya in November as a “pseudo-agreement” that violates international law.
The crisis stirred by Turkey’s provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, initially through the territorial dispute in the Cyprus EEZ which then intensified through the memorandum of understanding signed with Libya, has brought to the fore the strong interests of France in the region.
Dumont highlighted that the issues that have developed as a result of Turkey’s activities in the region must be dealt with on the political level, referring to any EU sanctions that may be imposed on Turkey as “the only way to make Turkey back down, and this is our goal. Our goal is not to pile up more sanctions against Turkey, but for Turkey to respect international law.”
Dumont noted that France also has its eyes set on joining the East Med Gas Forum, a platform for East Mediterranean natural gas cooperation, which was formally established as an international organization earlier this month when a memorandum of understanding was signed in Cairo by Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry was quick to respond to the setting up of the Forum, with spokesman Hami Arkansoy issuing a written statement that referred to the platform as “an unrealistic initiative launched by some countries with political motives, under illusions of excluding Turkey from energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Referring to the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, Dumont said that its mission in the region involves combatting terrorism in Syria and Iraq, “in line with the permanent presence of the French Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean, and demonstrates France’s willingness to act as a stabilizing force in the region.”
She added that while the vessel will be focusing on its mission against ISIS, its crew will also be conducting military exercises with the Cyprus aeronautical forces. [Kathimerini Cyprus]