According to an article by Elias Hazou published in the Greek Cypriot newspaper Cyprus Mail today, over the past two weeks various Greek Cypriot media outlets have put out differing reports on the Greek Cypriot government’s intentions to procure military hardware. However, the Greek Cypriot Defence Ministry on Monday declined to comment on reported plans for the acquisition of naval gunships.
A week ago Simerini said the government would be buying a frigate from Israel and three more from EU countries; this was neither denied nor confirmed.
And on Sunday, Kathimerini reported that the United States was about to ‘give’ South Cyprus two coastguard vessels.
Also on Sunday, Greek Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaidis said the Greek Cypriot government is working “methodically and quietly toward making rescue operations safer and more efficient”.
According to Kathimerini, two ships – fitted with light weapons – are to be acquired from the United States. They are dual-use vessels (DUVs), that is, vessels that can be deployed for military as well as civil uses.
The transfer or sale of DUVs would get around the embargo on the sale of US military equipment to South Cyprus, the paper suggested.
According to the article, South Cyprus’ intention is to acquire open-sea patrol vessels, or offshore vessels, with long-range capability and able to navigate rough seas.
About two years ago, reports surfaced that the Greek Cypriot government had agreed to purchase from Israel two naval craft, to be used primarily for patrolling the waters in the Exclusive Economic Zone.
The two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) were to be built from scratch for South Cyprus by Israel Shipyards Ltd, with a reported combined price tag of €100m.
At the time the Greek Cypriot government confirmed the negotiations with the Israelis.
The plans were shelved, apparently after the ruling DISY party decided the purchase would be provocative amid the financial squeeze.