Cyprus-France defence deal comes into effect amid Turkey tensions

(Updates with trilateral discussion on Turkish activity)

Cyprus and France have signed a defence cooperation agreement as Turkey maintains efforts for oil and gas exploration off the shore of Cyprus, the Greek City Times reported.

The two-year Cyprus-France Defence Cooperation Agreement came into effect on Aug. 1 and covers energy, crisis management, counter-terrorism and maritime security cooperation between the two countries, it said.

The leaders of countries have also agreed to "hold joint exercises and organize mutual visits in the framework of activities of the armed forces of the two countries", said French news site Fr24, citing Cypriot Defence Minister Charlambos Petridis in a statement.

Turkey is locked in disputes with both Greece and Cyprus over territorial waters in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Turkey has sent ships to drill for gas off Cyprus to press its territorial claim to the waters there.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the country in response to a Greek Cypriot coup intended to unite the island with Greece. Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus controls the southern two-thirds of the island, while the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, controls the northern third.

Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone partially overlaps with Turkey’s continental shelf, according to Ankara.

On Monday, Turkey announced that its seismic exploration ship Oruç Reis has arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean after suspending exploration efforts in the region on July 25.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides discussed Turkey’s new seismic research activity in the region with his counterparts from Greece and Egypt, Kathimerini reported on Monday, citing a statement released by the country’s foreign ministry.