The first two-day International Defence and Security Conference of Cyprus, which began on Monday in Limassol, aims to highlight the defence industry of Cyprus, new trends and technologies, as well as prospects for cooperation among the parties involved.
Defence Minister, Charalambos Petrides, said the conference emphasises that we remain resolute in defending our national interests and maintaining a strong and robust National Guard.
At the same time, he pledged that “the Republic of Cyprus will continue advancing and enlarging its defence partnerships, its bilateral, trilateral and other multilateral defence and military cooperations for acting as a pillar of stability, regional cooperation and prosperity.”
He said the Conference includes, inter alia panel discussions and presentations of collaborative European defence capabilities projects- some of which will be presented for the first time. It comes at a critical juncture with regards international and European security and defence. We live in an era of geopolitical upheaval following Russian invasion to Ukraine.
“We all have to adapt to this new reality and Europe has taken important steps for bolstering European defence capabilities and fostering a more secure and more resilient EU,” the Minister added.
Petrides said “we are witnessing an era of geopolitical upheaval and tectonic shifts in our security environment, we need to invest in strengthening the EU’s defence and military capacities and capabilities, thus reinforcing EU’s long-term security and strategic autonomy.”
He remarked that the EU must be perceived as our main industry option when addressing national capability shortcomings. To that end, looking ahead to the development of a joint EU defence strategic programming and procurement function, we consider critically important that it takes into particular account of the threats and challenges we face on a national level, along with our existing and emerging operational needs.
On a national level, he said he was proud that the Republic of Cyprus is in line and in tune with the global and European trend for investing more in defence, armaments and capabilities.
According to Petrides, Cyprus has significantly increased it defence spending in the last 2 years. At the present, defence expenditure is close to 2% (1.98%) of our GDP. From that percentage, an important chunk goes to armaments procurement as well as into research and innovation.
“We are currently at the highest defence spending over the last 20years. This was not an easy thing to do following the financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic”, he remarked.
Petrides pledged that Cyprus remains “resolute in defending our national interests and maintaining a strong and robust National Guard, willing and able to defend our homeland and be a reliable and credible deterrence force against Turkish aggression and ongoing military occupation”.
We are also an attractive partner for regional defence and military cooperation, the Defence Minister said, “and our network of bilateral defence agreement and cooperation programmes now spans to 17 countries, including key partners such the US, France, UK, Israel, Egypt, India, UAE, Italy, Serbia, Jordan, Slovakia, Germany and of course our closest defence partner Greece”.
The Minister further referred to the signing of an MoU between the Cyprus Association of Research Innovation Enterprises and the Hellenic Aerospace Security and Defense Industries Group which will “foster closer collaboration and interaction between Cyprus and Greece, for harnessing new funding opportunities to the benefit of our national defence and European security”.
The conference was addressed by National Guard commander Democritos Zervakis and the chairman of the House Defence Committee Marinos Sizopoulos. Both expressed their support to initiatives which promote cooperation in new innovative defence and security technologies.
In statements on behalf of the European Defence Organization, Elias Hadjikoumis said that “a Cypriot defence industry would enhance the operational autonomy and readiness of the Armed Forces and certainly the competitiveness and entrepreneurship of the Cypriot economy”.
He also spoke of the need for a Defence Industry Council, under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Defence and the participation of all stakeholders, with the primary mission of developing the Cypriot Defence Strategy.
The conference is organised by C.D Multimedia Services, the Cyprus Association of Research and Innovation Enterprises and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Source: Cyprus News Agency