Cyprus and three EU countries sign agreement on Balkan battle group
Brussels, Nov 13 -- Defence Ministers of Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania signed Monday an agreement of technical cooperation concerning a Balkan battle group to operate in the framework of the EU, in which the four countries will participate.
The agreement was signed in the framework of the EU Defence Ministersí meeting in Brussels. On behalf of Cyprus it was signed by Minister of Defence Nicos Symeonides.
The EU has approximately 18 battle groups set up by its member states. The battle group in which Cyprus is participating will be at the disposal of the EU during the second semester of 2007. Each semester, two battle groups are at the EU disposal.
By participating in the battle group, Cyprus secures its full participation in the rapid reaction force of the EU in a time when Turkey makes efforts to further block Cyprus from taking part in various EU operations.
In 1974 Turkish troops invaded Cyprus and since then occupy one third of the islandís territory.
Cyprus is a member of the EU since May 2004.
Turkey, aspiring to become an EU member state refuses to implement the Customs Union protocol by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus and does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
The EU has urged Turkey in numerous occasions to lift its policy of blocking the participation of Cyprus in various international organizations.