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British Bases and Cyprus develop defence relations

 

British Forces Cyprus staff and members of the Republic of Cyprus Air Command have been developing defence relations this week with joint visits to RAF Akrotiri and the Paphos Airforce base.

Brigadier General Gabriel Dimitriou, the head of Cyprus Air Command, was given a full tour of RAF Akrotiri and briefed on the “pace and tempo of operations” supported on the base.

And members of British Forces Cyprus, including RAF Akrotiri Station Commander, Group Captain Mike Blackburn, were hosted by Colonel Christos Koumenides, the Paphos Airforce base commander, where his staff gave a full briefing and tour of the facilities and equipment there.

These visits have boosted the already well-developed relationship between the two military forces, something the Defence Secretary from Britain and the Republic of Cyprus spoke about in August last year.

During a visit to Cyprus, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon spoke of his gratitude to the Republic of Cyprus for its support in the battle against Daesh and his Cypriot counterpart, Christoforos Fokaides, spoke of the need to develop “partnerships with countries and governments that remain committed to the fight against terrorism”.

The visits to RAF Akrotiri and the Paphos Airforce base appear to have achieved that aim and according to Colonel Koumenides, he was hopeful that this would continue.

He said: “I believe the visit to RAF Akrotiri and the Bases return visit to the Paphos Airforce base to be very useful and both ourselves and the Bases are keen to develop on this relationship.”

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RAF Akrotiri’s Station Commander, Gp Capt Blackburn was equally keen to continue developing defence relations.

Blackburn explained: “The Cypriot delegation was briefed on the pace and tempo of operations supported from Akrotiri and were given a full tour of the facilities on base.

“The principal focus of discussion during the visits concerned tactical-level issues such as local airspace coordination, use of Akrotiri and Paphos for emergencies and training, Force Protection, air safety and Search and Rescue training and exercises.

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