The main opposition party in Cyprus has “denounced” plans by hawkish Tory MP Gavin Williamson to send fighter jets to the Mediterranean island.
Britain’s defence secretary said this week that “formidable” new F-35B aircraft will be deployed to the Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Akrotiri this autumn for their first overseas deployment.
The Progressive Party of Working People (Akel) said the move would not make Cypriots feel secure.
“We denounce the scheduled deployment of the F-35B fighter jets to Cyprus and demand that it be revoked,” an Akel spokesperson said.
“Cyprus must become a bridge of peace and not an aggressive launching pad for waging war.”
Akel is concerned that the deployment will see British pilots “gain the necessary experience in maintaining and flying the F-35B jets in an unfamiliar environment and for them to become fully operational in order to protect British interests and those of its allies anywhere in the world.”
It added: “The question therefore arises whether this is part of a more comprehensive plan by Britain and its allies to turn Cyprus into a launching pad for waging aggressive military operations in the wider region of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean.”
Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths also condemned the deployment to Cyprus.
“Britain should be negotiating withdrawal from the bases in Cyprus and not further increasing their offensive armoury,” he said.
“This base has been used for bombing raids against Libya, Iraq and Syria.
“The dispatch of these state-of-the art fighter planes can only inflame an already dangerous situation in the region — with Netanyahu’s proclaimed annexation of the Golan Heights, the illegal settlements in the West Bank and continuing military operations in Syria.”