The first International Defence and Security Conference began in Limassol to highlight the Cyprus defence industry, new trends and technologies.
Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides said the conference emphasises that Cyprus remains resolute in defending its national interests and maintaining a robust National Guard.
“The Republic of Cyprus will continue advancing and enlarging its defence partnerships, its bilateral, trilateral and other multilateral defence and military cooperations for acting as a pillar of stability, regional cooperation and prosperity.”
He said the Conference includes presentations of collaborative European defence capabilities projects- some for the first time.
“It comes at a critical juncture for international and European security and defence.
“We live in an era of geopolitical upheaval following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We all have to adapt to this new reality, and Europe has taken important steps for bolstering European defence capabilities and fostering a more secure and more resilient EU.
“We are witnessing an era of geopolitical upheaval and tectonic shifts in our security environment; we need to invest in strengthening the EU’s defence and military capacities and capabilities, thus reinforcing the EU’s long-term security and strategic autonomy.”
Petrides said the EU must be perceived as the main industry option when addressing national capability shortcomings.
According to Petrides, Cyprus has significantly increased its defence spending in the last two years.
Defence expenditure is close to 2% (1.98%) of GDP.
An important chunk goes to armaments procurement and research and innovation.
“We are currently at the highest defence spending over the last 20 years.
“This was not an easy thing to do following the financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Petrides pledged that Cyprus remains “resolute in defending our national interests and maintaining a strong and robust National Guard and be a reliable and credible deterrence force against Turkish aggression and ongoing military occupation”.
He said bilateral defence agreements and cooperation programmes now span 17 countries, including key partners such as the US, France, UK, Israel, Egypt, India, UAE, Italy, Serbia, Jordan, Slovakia, Germany, and Greece.
On behalf of the European Defence Organisation, Elias Hadjikoumis said: “A Cypriot defence industry would enhance the operational autonomy and readiness of the Armed Forces and certainly the competitiveness and entrepreneurship of the Cypriot economy”.
He argued for a Defence Industry Council, under the chair of the Ministry of Defence and the participation of all stakeholders, with the primary mission of developing the Cypriot Defence Strategy.