Cyprus to buy missiles from France

Cyprus is set to buy missiles from France as part of a bid to upgrade its armed forces as competition sharpens with Turkey for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean, Cypriot daily the National Herald reported, citing the Cypriot Defence Ministry.

The deal, worth $262 million, will include the purchase of Mistral surface-to-air and Exocet anti-ship missiles, the Herald said quoting French media reports.

The ministry’s deal also includes contracts to modernise the country’s surface-to-surface missiles and for a new French air defence system, Greek daily Kathimerini reported in January.

Cyprus has signed deals with regional countries demarcating an exclusive economic zone that includes areas that hold potentially vast gas reserves to the south of the island, but Turkey says parts of the areas it claims lie on its continental shelf.

Turkey is the only country to recognise the breakaway Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and does not recognise the mainly Greek Cypriot republic that governs the majority of the island.

France has stepped up as a backer of Cyprus and Greece after Turkey escalated the eastern Mediterranean dispute by signing a maritime boundaries deal with the U.N.-recognised Libyan government that demarcates areas that lie just of Cyprus and several Greek islands.

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is stationed just off Cyprus’s southern coast, near areas where Cyprus says the Turkish drillship has infringed on its sovereign waters to search for gas.