U.S. plans to provide Cyprus with military education, training programme

The United States announced on Wednesday it will provide Cyprus with a military education and training programme, part of a greater policy intended to promote security and energy partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The United States is pleased to announce our intention to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to the Republic of Cyprus” the U.S. embassy in Nicosia said in an online statement.

The IMET programme, which is slated to begin at the start of 2021, will be aimed at “promoting regional stability and defence capabilities” with training and education on U.S. military practices and standards, it said.

“IMET serves as an effective means to strengthen military partnerships and international coalitions that defend our national security interests,” the embassy said.

The training programme is consistent with a new regional policy put forth by the U.S. Congress dubbed “Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019”, which includes maritime security dialogue and deepening energy security cooperation among Cyprus, Greece and Israel, three countries in a conglomerate collaborating on a gas drilling project off the Cyprus coast.

The project created a territorial dispute with Turkey – which does not recognise Cyprus as a state. Ankara has claimed half of the Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone on behalf of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and has repeatedly carried out warship-escorted offshore drilling in the territory.

Turkey is also pursuing what it calls its Blue Homeland naval expansion doctrine, which lays claim to wide-ranging territorial waters in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Seas.

The Hellenic American Leadership Council, a U.S.-based Greek diaspora organisation, praised the U.S. embassy announcement.

“Today, an important first step in implementation of the East Mediterranean Act with the (U.S.) State Department’s announcement of IMET program for (sic) Republic of Cyprus,” HALC said on Twitter.

Because of U.S. lawmakers, America can promote a “more stable Eastern Mediterranean in partnership with the region’s democracies”, it said.