Cyprus Minister of Defence Photis Photiou has assured his EU counterparts on the readiness of Cyprus to respond to humanitarian issues that would probably arise from a possible war in Syria.

Photiou participated in the Informal meeting of EU Ministers of Defence, which took place in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 5-6 September, 2013.

According to an official press release issued here, Friday, Syria crisis has been discussed in the meeting although it was not on the agenda. In his intervention, Photiou stressed that the Republic of Cyprus condemns the use of chemical weapons and added that those who are responsible should face the consequences.

He expressed his concern on the situation in Syria and the negative effects that can occur in the region, and on the security of Christians in Syria. He also briefed the European Ministers of the readiness of the Republic of Cyprus to respond to humanitarian issues, such as the evacuation of Europeans and other civilians from the war zone.

The meeting was chaired by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. On some issues of the agenda, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen participated in the discussion.

During the first part of the meeting, the EU Ministers discussed the preparations for the December European Council, in Brussels, which will focus, inter alia, on the Union’s defence and military capabilities matters.

During the discussion on the EU-NATO relations, Photiou expressed the readiness of Cyprus government to contribute to the further strengthening of those relations by the participation of the country to the Partnership for Peace programme.

In a tête-à-tête meeting he had with NATO SG, Photiou said that Cyprus accession to the programme will contribute to the stability and security in the region of Eastern Mediterranean Sea and will improve the EU-NATO relations.

Photiou briefed Rasmussen on the resumption of the negotiations on the Cyprus issue and on the proposal for the return of Famagusta to its legal inhabitants.

At a working dinner, EU Ministers briefed by operational leaders on EU military operations organised in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

Photiou returns to Cyprus on Friday evening.

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