Cyprus and US relations have never been stronger, Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas said at the signing ceremony of a State Partnership Program (SPP) between the Republic and the New Jersey National Guard.
The signing took place at the Presidential Palace on Thursday, and the Chief of the Cypriot National Guard signed the SPP, Lt. Gen. Demokritos Zervakis and the Adjutant General of New Jersey National Guard, Brigadier Lisa J. Hou.
Giorgallas said that over the last two years, “we have embarked on fulfilling our ambition to build close, robust, and mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation between Cyprus and the USA”.
“Some of the recent highlights and milestone achievements are the accessing of the international educational program of Cypriot officers…and of course the lifting of the US arms embargo of lethal and non-lethal materials”.
He pointed out that Cyprus promotes closer regional defence cooperation with the US, EU member states and its neighbours.
“We are a reliable partner and a facilitator for regional cooperation for promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
“We are always seeking new avenues for cooperation to strengthen this strategic partnership further.
“We are extremely excited about our accession to the state partnership program.”
Cyprus is just the second SPP Partner of the New Jersey National Guard.
“We feel privileged that Cyprus is among the new additions to this highly estimated value partnership”.
US Ambassador Julie D. Fisher said it is one of the most effective security cooperation programs of the US that work in Europe today.
Cyprus and Norway are among the newest relationships included in this program.
“It seems appropriate that New Jersey, with its state model liberty and prosperity, will make today this important partnership with the Republic of Cyprus official.
“I am sure that this collaboration will promote our shared values and build resilience for the work on military, security and disaster response means we undertake together.
“The state partnership program will allow us to share knowledge on a range of issues, including maritime security, counterterrorism and natural disaster response.”
Brigadier Lisa J. Hou said that the application for state partnership with Cyprus has been accepted by the US Department of State and supported by the National Guard bureau.
The state partnership program enriches allies and institutions of those involved, noting that in 1993, the US began the state partnership program with 13 partnerships, and this year Cyprus is among the new group of nations that raised the program to 100 countries involved.
Lt. Gen. Demokritos Zervakis said that this is a significant moment in the history of the National Guard.
“It is an honour and privilege to be part of this program.
“Our defence cooperation with the US now includes military education of our officers, important multinational military exercises, training between our special forces and exchange of personnel”.
He said the partnership program with the New Jersey National Guard assures a new era in our defence and military cooperation with the US.
The SPP evolved from a 1991 US European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers and Airmen.
A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal paired US states with three nations emerging from the former Soviet Bloc, and the SPP was born, becoming a key US security cooperation tool, facilitating cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encouraging people-to-people ties at the state level.