LARNACA, Cyprus — Cyprus, Israel and Greece must forge deeper military ties to improve security and more effectively counter common threats in a turbulent region, the countries' defense ministers said Friday.
Cypriot Minister Savvas Angelides and his Israeli and Greek counterparts Avigdor Lieberman and Panos Kammenos said they also seek to expand cooperation on cybersecurity, joint military drills and search and rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Israeli defense minister said the threat of terror attacks and the challenges posed by illegal migration in a region he called "an ocean of violence" where "rogue states" operate must be met collectively.
"It's much better to counter regional threats together," Lieberman told a news conference. He also said Israel will host the ministers' next trilateral meeting.
The ministers also hailed the first conference bringing together Cypriot, Greek and Israeli companies active in the military industry.
The Greek minister also said a eurozone decision paving the way for Greece to end its eight-year bailout program will positively impact the country's armed forces.
In a clear reference to Turkey, the Cypriot minister said closer defense cooperation poses no threat to any other country and helps secure the ongoing search for gas in the eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus and Israel have discovered gas deposits off their coasts and continue searching for more. Turkey has objected to the search off Cyprus, fearing that the benefits of those findings will not be shared with Turkish Cypriots in the breakaway northern part of the ethnically divided island.
The Cypriot government says any potential hydrocarbon wealth will be equitably shared after a reunification deal is reached.