LIMASSOL - Argonaftis 2014 concluded Thursday with Minister of Defence Christoforos Fokaides describing the annual crisis management exercise as “highly successful” in showcasing Cyprus’ ability to respond in emergency situations.
“The Republic of Cyprus, recognising the vital role that can be played in the framework of wider efforts to develop and maintain the European Union’s ability to address crisis-related incidents in the sensitive region of the Eastern Mediterranean, has taken all necessary steps to utilise and improve its capabilities.”
The minister thanked the foreign diplomats and observers who attended the four-day exercise as well as the embassies of Australia, Germany, Greece, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Romania and the aeronautical forces from Greece, Israel and the United Kingdom for their participation in the drill.
“Undoubtedly, the management of any crisis situation constitutes a difficult and complex task,” said Fokaides. “Nevertheless, we are confident that we can meet our obligations when called upon and provide maximum assistance in dealing with any incident.”
According to the minister, to maintain this level readiness numerous services in Cyprus cooperate as part of the National ‘ESTIA’ plan which involves the optimum utilisation of manpower and resources to provide assistance to EU and third country nationals in the event of evacuation via Cyprus from neighbouring countries which are experiencing political crisis, military conflict or natural disasters.
“Cyprus has demonstrated the solidarity with which crisis situations in our region are encountered by taking part in a wide range of operations including search and rescue, the provision of assistance to neighbouring countries and responding to natural disasters.”
Fokaides reiterated Cyprus’ commitment to further deepen bilateral relations and joint actions with the aim of maintaining peace, security and regional stability.
“The strategic partnerships that we are formulating and implementing with countries in the region also promote the energy independence of Europe and serve as a catalyst to promote regional cooperation.”
Several scenarios involving evacuations and dealing with terrorism and piracy situations were played out during the annual drill with the National Guard, Civil Defence, and police force all taking part.
The final phase of the exercise yesterday took place at the Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari in the presence of the political and military leadership and foreign diplomats.