Multinational search and rescue exercise “Argonaut 2017” concludes in Larnaca

The final stage of the annual multi-national exercise “Argonaut 2017” took place Friday at the old Larnaca Airport, in a specially designed area in which 22 European and other countries were involved with personnel and aeronautical units.

The exercise was conducted in the presence of political-military leadership, foreign diplomats and observers.

In his address, Minister of Defense Christoforos Fokaides welcomed the completion of the final stage of the “Argonaut” exercise, “which is now established as one of the largest and most important exercises of its kind in our wider region. He added that the exercise reaffirms our strong political will to strengthen the role that Cyprus plays as a positive contributor to security in this troubled and unstable neighborhood. ” He added that towards that direction Cyprus was working with its partners in the European Union, with friendly countries and neighboring states.

The Minister welcomed the participation of so many foreign delegations in the exercise, the presence of foreign diplomats and representatives of friendly governments, while expressing his gratitude to the countries that participated with naval and air units, namely the USA, the United Kingdom, Greece, France and Egypt.

We are working systematically to strengthen and upgrade the capabilities of the Republic of Cyprus and based on our planning, we are strengthening in the next period especially the navy and the aviation with new modern means”, he said.

The Minister of Defenses address, was followed by the final stage of the “Argonaut 2017” exercise.

According to the exercise scenario, a Cobalts civilian aircraft, coming from a neighboring country of crisis, with civilian passengers heading to Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport, was occupied by terrorists and the pilot asked and received permission to land at Larnaca Airport.

Once informed about the hijacking, the special Ministerial Committee, consisting by the Ministers of Justice, Interior, Defense and Transport, met for the implementation of the national “Shield” project under the responsibility and coordination of the police.

Twenty-eight departments from eight Ministries, were dealing with the hijacking. Among the services involved were specialized sections of the Police, the Port and Naval Police, the Fire Brigade, Larnaca General Hospital, Civil Aviation and Hermes Airports.

It is the largest exercise of civil-military cooperation in Cyprus, and the Republic of Cyprus took part with 24 departments from 8 Ministries (Defense, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, Transport, Health, Energy, Labor and Social Insurance).

The exercise was attended, among others, by Ambassadors or representatives of the USA, UK, Ukraine, Israel, China, Slovakia, India, Oman, Bulgaria, Poland, Jordan, Switzerland, Spain, Iran, Egypt, Finland, Brazil, Syria, Italy, Greece, France and Palestine.

Source: Cyprus News Agency