BATTLEFIELD ReDEFiNED 2023 | European Defence Initiatives and the Cyprus Defence Industry
Defence Redefined
Published on 11/02/2023 at 15:58

*Christos Loizou

The Cyprus Defence Industry and its role in the framework of initiatives at the European level were undoubtedly at the heart of the discussion held during the International Defence and Security Conference BATTLEFIELD ReDEFiNED 2023 in Cyprus. A special panel with representatives from the Ministry of Defence, the European Defence Agency and companies active in the defence sector both in Cyprus and Greece discussed the above topic.

In his introductory speech, Elias Hatzikoumis, (Senior EU Advisor on Security and Defence / External Support Funds EDA), referred to the PESCO programmes, the European Defence Fund (EDF) programs and the EU’s efforts for a common defence policy through the Strategic Compass.

Elias Hatzikoumis

Among other things, Mr. Hatzikoumis referred to the lack of a coherent strategy of the states for the PESCO and EDF programs, adding that the industry needs support so as to cover existing needs in the European area. Regarding the Commission’s efforts, he said that the European Commission has approved a fund of 500 million euros to help the industry in its efforts to meet demand. Regarding Cyprus, Mr. Hatzikoumis emphasized, among others, that progress is being made even though there is room for improvement, adding that with a strong domestic defence industry, Cyprus will be able to participate at the European level with major actors in the sector. His report on defence industry strategy is also worth-mentioning.

This was followed by a relevant panel which discussed and answered questions from the audience, moderated by Vassilis Tsiamis, (EY Associate Partner on Access to EU funding-Security and Defence Leader / Former Senior EU Official on Security and Defence).

Vassilis Tsiamis

Alain Alexis (Avisa partners senior expert / Former Advisor of the DG DEFIS on Synergies Space, Defence and Civil Industries) referred to the political framework for the European Defence Fund, namely the security of Europe and its citizens. He stated, among others, that a competitive European defence industry is essential, which will be combined with the pillars of the Armed Forces and diplomacy. He also emphasized that there are great advantages in several areas from the cooperation of European countries in the field of defence industry.

Alain Alexis

Captain Polydoros Hatzidimitriou, (member of the Department of Research and Development of the Ministry of Defence), referred to the Ministry of Defence’s support to Cypriot companies in their participation in European Defence Fund (EDF) programs. He also emphasized the participation of the private sector in the Ministry’s initiatives and the prospects for further improvement in the important steps that have been taken in recent years. Responding to a relevant question, Mr. Hatzidimitriou also mentioned that the Ministry of Defence’s areas of interest in respect of the development of capabilities include, inter alia, Unmanned Surface Vessels and Unmanned Aircraft Countermeasures Systems.

Captain Polydoros Hatzidimitriou

Dr. Tasos Kounoudis, (CEO of SignalGeneriX and president of the Cyprus Association of Research and Innovation Enterprises -CARIE), referred to the example of SignalGeneriX which began its operation as a startup 20 years ago in Cyprus and managed to participate in major European programs with the most important companies in the European area, while also progressing in export activities. He emphasized that many steps have been taken in the past in the development of the defence industry in Cyprus, while there are opportunities for further progress.

Dr. Tasos Kounoudes

Nikolaos Papatsas, (president of the Hellenic Aerospace Security & Defense Industries Group ) said that Europe, after facing threats in the field of security, realized that it must strengthen its own defence capabilities. Substantial work in this direction began 5 years ago, but the industry has difficulty meeting existing needs due to long-term inactivity.

Nikolaos Papatsas

Mr. Papatsas also stressed the importance of research and innovation programs, while highlighting the benefits of investments made in the defence industry and the security sector to the economy, such as jobs and economic performance. Finally, he referred to the capacity of Greek companies to operate competitively at the European level.

Mr. Andreas Mitsis, (CEO of EODH), introduced the 4 pillars of the EU strategic compass for the defence industry (Invest – Partnership – Secure – Act).

Andreas Mitsis

He characteristically mentioned that in the past there was “suspicion” against the European institutional level for the development of the defence industry and the support of related programs. He also emphasized the importance of business export activities and of small medium enterprises participating even in large projects.

Also read: BATTLEFIELD ReDEFiNED 2023 | The emerging Cypriot Defence Industry – EU Funding Opportunities




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