Minister in US to seal security agreement

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Defence Minister Michalis Georgallas is in the United States to sign an agreement to integrate Cyprus’ National Guard into the State Partnership Programme (SPP).

Turkey has denounced the defence training deal between the US and Cyprus as “encouraging Greek Cypriot armament.”

According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), the signing ceremony will take place at a political level in New Jersey.

A Statement of Intent to join the SPP was signed on March 30 at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia between the Ministry of Defence and the National Guard of the State of New Jersey, marking the integration of the army into the network.

During the ceremony in the US, an event will also be held to commemorate the 30 years of the SPP programme, which will be organised by the State of New Jersey.

The SPP is a programme of the US Department of Defence that connects US states with partner countries worldwide, aiming to support cooperation goals in the security sector.

By connecting the US with partner countries, the SPP aims to enhance military capabilities, improve interoperability, and strengthen principles of responsible governance.

The agreement includes personnel exchange for acquiring expertise in the field of cyber defence, as well as technological upgrades of weapon systems, and personnel exchange for conducting military exercises within the framework of the SPP, which involves participation from other member countries.

In 1993, the US began the state partnership program with 13 partnerships; Cyprus is among the new group of nations that raised the program to 100 countries involved.

Cyprus is just the second SPP Partner of the New Jersey National Guard.

US Ambassador Julie D. Fisher said it is one of the US’s most effective security cooperation programs that work in Europe today.

During his stay in New York, the minister delivered a speech on the 49th anniversary of the coup and the Turkish invasion of 1974.

“We will continue on the path of responsibility and dignity until the day when we do not go to our occupied land as visitors, we will not go to our churches as travellers, but we will live there again, permanently rooted in the places of our ancestors,” said Georgallas.