France sent a warship to the coast of Cyprus

France demonstrated its military might on Monday by sending its new frigate Auvergne to the eastern Mediterranean, seeking to underline, according to the ship’s captain, the importance Paris attaches to ensuring security and stability in the region.

Captain Paul Merveilleux de Vignaux said that Auvergne with his 150-man crew will be in the eastern Mediterranean until January to gather intelligence to “show France that respect for international law and especially freedom of navigation has meaning”.

“This stay (of the warship) underlines how important this part of the Mediterranean is for France,” as well as “the country’s willingness to contribute to the stabilization of this strategic area,” de Vigno told reporters in the Cyprus port of Larnaca.

Auvergne was commissioned three years ago. It has modern sonar equipment and specializes in countering submarines. De Winno said this is Auvergne’s 12th visit to Cyprus, which he called the key to supporting French naval operations in the region. “There can be no effective and sustainable naval operations without support, and Cyprus is the centerpiece of it,” he said.

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle also repeatedly made visits to the shores of Cyprus, “scaring away” the Turkish fleet.

Relations between Cyprus and France have grown closer in recent years. Cyprus allows French aircraft to use its military airbase in the southeastern part of the island nation and allows French ships to use its naval port, which is currently undergoing modernization.

France is also seeking to announce its presence to send a signal to Turkey not to interfere with offshore drilling by French energy company Total and its Italian partner Eni in waters off the southern coast of Cyprus.

Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a country and disputes the waters to which the Cypriot government claims rights as an exclusive economic zone. Ankara claims that much of this water either overlaps its continental shelf or belongs to the breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of an alliance with Greece. Turkey alone recognizes the Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in 1983 in the northern third of the island, where more than 35,000 troops are stationed.

In February 2018, Turkish warships prevented a drilling vessel leased by Eni from drilling exploratory drilling in the waters southeast of Cyprus.

Political analyst Anna Kukkides-Prokopiou believes the presence of the French naval force is a clear signal for Turkey.

“(French President Emmanuel) Macron needs to project this power in the region because it is part of his entire policy of creating or rebuilding France as a great power that not only dominates the Middle East region, but also (in) Africa,” he said Kukkides-Prokopiou Associated Press.

“Someone had to move and fill this vacuum (in the eastern Mediterranean). Now France wants to make sure that this is not Turkey, ”she said. [AP]





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