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Safeguarding the independence, territorial integrity and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus constitutes the Ministry of Defence’s mission, Defence Minister, Charalambos Petridis, stated in his presentation at the press conference for the assessment of the Ministry’s work.
As Mr. Petridis pointed out, the continuous and intensified upgrading of the country’s and the National Guard’s defence capabilities is necessitated by the intransigence and growing aggressive attitude of the occupying power.
In this context, in the previous five years, specific goals were set in respect of six pillars:
- Strengthening defence cooperation relations with other states in order to create conditions of security, peace, and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In this context, bilateral and trilateral cooperations in the fields of Defence and Security were developed with 16 regional and European countries as well as with other important countries acting in the region, such as the United Kingdom and the USA. An important development is the quadripartite cooperation between Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and France.
In particular, the steady and substantial upgrading of our relations began and continues with the USA, with the most recent example being the signing of the Bilateral Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), but also Washington’s decision to completely lift the embargo on the sale of US weapons to the Republic of Cyprus, for one year, as of October 1, 2022.
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- Strengthening the operational capabilities of the National Guard. In the past period, the National Guard’s force was strengthened by upgrading and modernizing its equipment, but also through joint training with other advanced military countries.
The Ministry of Defence steadily proceeded in the implementation of the armament program, prepared in cooperation with the National Guard, raising the defence acquisition budget to the highest level in the last 20 years, always within the framework of the state’s financial capabilities.
- Implementation of innovative and reforming actions. Easy access for citizens to fulfill their conscription obligations through the Citizen Service Centres, the “Declaration of Conscripts’ Personal Details” for 16-year-old males, the “Declaration of Selection Ranking” and the Contracted Soliders’ Recruitment Submission through the “Gov.cy” electronic platform were established.
In the context of the “ATHENA” action, national research and innovation actions of approximately 900,000 euros were implemented by awarding two projects to Cypriot consortia.
The participation of Cypriot entities in 17 programs of the European Defence Industrial Development Program (EDIDP) and the European Defence Fund were financially and administratively supported.
In collaboration with the Research and Innovation Foundation, the Ministry of Defence has recently announced new Research and Development Projects in the field of dual-use technologies, drawing a total of 3 million euros from the Recovery and Resilience Fund.
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- Simplification and improvement of the legislative and regulatory framework with measures to crack down on military service deferral, which was reduced to 1.8%, and the modernization of the laws and regulations governing the Army of the Republic and the National Guard.
- Strengthening the performance of financial resources and the budget. Tendering procedures were streamlined and specifications were drawn up by specialized centers in terms of materials. The absorption of the approved Budget reached 96%.
- Taking actions to reduce the energy footprint and operate the camps with renewable energy sources in the context of the Ministry’s environmental and energy policy.
At the same time, Mr. Petridis noted that, for the energy saving program, funding of 19 million euros has been secured from the European Structural Funds (THALIA Program) regarding the installation of photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of 12 MW. The project will start in early 2023 and phased implementation is expected to be completed in 2027.
Concluding, he pointed out that, within the framework of government policy, the Ministry of Defence promoted a series of measures, utilizing the available state resources to the maximum extent, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the defence capacity of the Republic.
The National Guard is evolving into an effective, efficient, and flexible deterrence force that is constantly improving, and adapting to modern conditions.
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