Greece and Cyprus Defence Ministers call for unity

Visiting Greek Minister of National Defence Panayiotis Beglitis said here Monday that the Turkish threat against Cyprus "is not theoretical, it is real".
Speaking after talks with Cypriot Minister of Defence Demetris Eliades, Beglitis said he felt proud after a briefing he had on the Cypriot National Guard's operational readiness and effectiveness.
"I found officers with high prefessionalism, but above all with a brave soul and ready to confront, at any moment and whenever conditions of threat are created, the Turkish threat. This threat is not theoretical, it is real and we are experiencing this in the Aegean, and in Cyprus with the presence of the Turkish occupation forces, as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion," Beglitis noted.     
Both minsiter have called for unity, following a visit to the Naval Base "Evaggelos Florakis", during which they were briefed by Navy Command, Police officers and French experts on the progress so far with regard to investigations into the cause of last Monday's fatal blast at the base which killed 13 persons.
In statements he made after the visit, Beglitis conveyed the shock of Greek Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou, the Greek government and all political parties as well as their solidarity and support to the people of Cyprus and to the families of the victims.
"It is with sincere emotion and anguish over this tragedy that I state here today that what is needed today, amidst this crisis, is national unity. We have to maintain our composure, find the widest possible consensus and understanding in order to overcome the problems we are faced with", he said.
Both Cyprus and Greece are facing a wider fiscal and financial crisis, he said, adding that "with Greece's solidarity and the support of Greek people everywhere, we can overcome the problems and help overcome the problems Cyprus is faced with."
On his part Eliades said that Greece and Cyprus will find the strength and the courage to join forces and move forward and face these difficult times in a serious and responsible manner.
The two ministers also visited the "Sfalaggiotissa" cemetery in Limassol where Beglitis laid white flowers on the graves of Petty Officers Miltos and Christos Christoforou, Warrant Officer Kleanthis Kleanthous, Navy Commander Andreas Ioannides and Petty Officer Antonis Charalambous. They then visited the family of Navy Commander Andreas Ioannides, also killed in the blast.
Thirteen people were killed, namely six firemen, five National Guard members and two sailors, by the huge blast which rocked nearby communities and caused extended damage. Mari village, in close proximity to the naval base, suffered most of the damage.
The massive explosions occurred at the Naval Base "Evaggelos Florakis:, in Zygi, near Limassol, a few minutes before 0600 local time, on Monday, July 11th 2011.
The blast occurred in containers, full of munitions, which Cyprus had confiscated from "Monchegorsk", a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009, in compliance with UN sanctions.
Beglitis arrived in Cyprus on Monday for a three-day official visit, at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart Eliades.
On Tuesday, Beglitis will be received by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou, and will meet with leaders or representatives of parliamentary parties.
He will also attend memorial prayers at the monument of the Greek Armed Forces and an event to condemn the 1974 coup and Turkish invasion, to be held at the Presidential Palace.
On Wednesday, he will meet Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II and will attend memorial prayers at the Tomb of Makedonitissa and a memorial service for those who died during the invasion.

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