Today is truly an important day both for the Defense of Cyprus and for the development of our defense cooperation with France.
The acquisition of H-145M attack helicopters deepens our defence partnership with France and opens a new chapter in our well established and long - standing relationship in the fields of defense and security.
Let me express my deepest satisfaction for this watershed development that marks a new era for our Air Force.
Despite the challenging international economic conditions, and based on the direction and personal support of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, His Excellency Mr Nicos Anastasiades, we are steadfastly implementing our defense and armaments program, step by step.
Our unwavering goal is to upgrade and modernize the quality and capabilities of the National Guard, with advanced resources and up to date equipment, in order to be a reliable and robust defensive and deterrent force.
The defense and national security of our homeland is non – negotiable. The ongoing Turkish military threat from the occupied part of Cyprus, combined with the increasing revisionist policies of Turkey do not allow for any complacency.
We must maintain robust defence capabilities for the defense and security of our country and citizens.
With the acquisition of the new Airbus attack helicopters, we will also be able to strengthen the existing framework of our numerous international and regional partnerships, by increasing interoperability with regional states and participating in exercises and multinational initiatives, thus positively contributing to the security and stability in the region.
I would like to note that this year alone we have the highest index over the last 20 years, as concerns defence spending on national armament programs.
We are also investing more in defence related research, innovation and technology and I am hopeful that this area could be further harnessed between Cyprus and France.
The defense sector, and especially the armaments sector, could not be a point of contention. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank the Parliamentary Defense Committee for supporting this effort to modernize our defense capabilities with new armament systems.
I would also like to thank Airbus and our own team, the Permanent Secretary, the Chief of the National Guard and the Armaments Directorate for completing this process.
We will therefore commence this joint task immediately, in order to implement this armament program on the basis of the timeline that has been set.
Cyprus and France have forged a strong defence partnership that extends to bilateral, European and regional cooperation. I want to convey my appreciation for France's strong interest for the security of the Eastern Mediterranean region especially through the regular naval presence of the French Navy.
Our countries maintain common views as concerns European defense and security, the development of the European defense industry and the security of the Eastern Mediterranean.
We will work together to further strengthen, expand and deepen our defense cooperation with France and other EU Member States, both on a bilateral and European level, following the adoption of the Strategic Compass and the goal to strengthen European autonomy.
Investing in Defence means that we invest in our security, well-being and prosperity.
Finally, thank you all for attending this important event and allow me to wish to you all every success in your future endeavors.