LIMASSOL - Minister of Communication and Works Tasos Mitsopoulos has said that a new military conflict in the Middle East and the consequent need for mass evacuation of civilians and their transfer to Cyprus, remain a possibility that Cyprus needs to consistently consider.
Addressing the 27th International Meeting of the Joint Committee of COSPAS-SARSAT, that is takingplace in Limassol, the Minister said that this annual event has come to be recognized as a key forum for addressing the major issues in the field of search and rescue.
Cyprus, he said, strategically located at the crossroads of three continents, has witnessed over the centuries the conflicting results stemming from its geographical position.
“Nowadays, around 60% of the total oil production worldwide is being transferred through Cyprus’ area of jurisdiction, whereas more than 300,000 airplanes are crossing Cyprus’ FIR”, the Minister noted.
Referring to the Middle East, Mitsopoulos pointed out that “additionally, a new military conflict in the Middle East and the consequent need for mass evacuation of civilians and their transfer to Cyprus, always remain a possibility that we need to consistently consider”.
He recalled that in 2006 the political instability in Lebanon led more than 100,000 people of various nationalities to find refuge in Cyprus and save themselves from the unexpected consequences of the turmoil.
Referring to Cyprus, he said that it has been through a similar situation in 1974, when the unlawful Turkish invasion led to the occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
“Approximately 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forcibly expelled from their ancestral homes. To this end Cyprus responds with great sensitivity and concern to similar issues and proactively prepares for this sort of unfortunate situations”, Mitsopoulos stressed.
In addition, he said that despite the prevailing financial challenges, Cyprus continues the efforts for the upgrade of its Search and Rescue systems in order to ensure adequate levels of safety and maintain our capability to respond to a wide number of emergencies ranging from medical evacuations, rescue of migrants and asylum seekers, to the provision of high quality services to the platforms in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone currently drilling for natural gas.
“Our strategic plan for Search and Rescue involves the enhancement of a comprehensive system of monitoring, early detection and response to any incident within or outside our area of jurisdiction and the smooth cooperation with the neighboring countries”, he said.
Concluding his speech, the Minister noted that the Republic of Cyprus actively supports the efforts for the further use of space-related technologies and applications in the sectors of safety, transport and telecommunications.