Military cooperation between France and Southern Cyprus was decided on last week at a meeting in Nicosia between French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and South Cypriot leader Tasos Papadopoulos. A message asking permission to build a French military base on the island was reportedly delivered by the French minister of defense to Papadopouos from French President Jacques Chirac.
Advantages experts believe France will gain from building a base in Southern Cyprus are as follows:
----The ability to provide logistical support for future operations in the Middle East, such as sending troops in to held along the border between Lebanon and Israel.
----Distance from the threat of groups like Hizbollah, while maintaining proximity to all Middle Eastern countries.
----The ability to become a more active participant in the turbulent developments of the eastern Mediterranean.
----The permission to use other military and air bases in Southern Cyprus.
For the Southern Cypriots, the real target is Turkey
Alongside the advantages the French are hoping to grab by building a base in Southern Cyprus, the Cypriots too are expecting to benefit from this military agreement. For a long time, Southern Cyprus has been searching out full support within the EU from France against Turkey's quest for accession. Some of the contents in the agreement between France and Southern Cyprus as specified by Papadopoulos' authority:
----Despite the military embargo implemented against Southern Cyprus, the Southern Cypriot army will be able to gain advanced technology weapons from the French.
----The French army will provide military training for the Southern Cypriot army.
----France is expected to support Southern Cyprus in its quest to join in certain international organizations that it has thus far been barred from.