It is a great pleasure and honour welcoming you to the Common Security and Defence Policy Orientation Course, organized by the Security and Defence Academy of the Ministry of Defence and the Austrian National Defence Academy.

This event takes place for the second consecutive year, under the auspices of the European Security and Defence College and supported by the European Parliament office in Cyprus.

One of our goals at the Ministry of Defence is to further strengthen and promote the active and substantial participation of Cyprus in all actions and programs of the Common Defence and Security Policy (CSDP) pillar of the EU.

Through this participation we seek to advance and upgrade the operational capabilities of our National Guard and highlight the role of the Republic of Cyprus, as a pillar of stability and security in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region.

We strongly support the strategic autonomy of the EU, which will provide security to all EU Member States and stability and peace in the wider Euro-Mediterranean area. The EU Strategic autonomy, as the High Representative Josep Borrell underlined “is not a magic wand but a process, a long-term one, intended to ensure that Europeans increasingly take charge of themselves.” And he is correct. The concept as such is not new. In fact, strategic autonomy has been part of the agreed language of the EU for quite a long time.

We also invest heavily in promoting the creation of a common European security and defence culture, especially via common training. In this context, the last two years our Security and Defence Academy organized with the support of local and international institutions, twelve international training activities and conferences, all of them open to all EU member states and most of them also accessible to other partners especially from our neighbourhood.  

Topics of high interest and value like  Cyber Security, Climate Change and Security,  Project Management in EU Missions and Operations, Future of the EU Security and Defence, Leadership, Gender mainstreaming in the Military training and in the CSDP Missions and Operations were highlighted in these events, giving the opportunity to officials from EU Member States, institutions, agencies, academic and industrial partners, to obtain a better understanding of the Common Security and Defence Policy, the EU priorities, common values,  strategies, structures and procedures.

We are also strongly promoting the idea and encouraging our Security Academy to co - organize events and trainings with other National and Foreign actors, with which we share a common vision for a better and more secure world, based on common values and aspirations. Building on this experience and network we decided to increase our efforts and we have already scheduled numerous international activities for the current calendar year, three of them in partnership with Austria and the rest with different partners from Belgium, Romania, Poland, UK, USA, the European Commission and the European Defence Agency.

These common endeavours proved to have great added value, not only at the level of participating actors and institutions, but also on a higher political level. They create trustful bonds between our state institutions and people, common understanding of our challenges and threats and have always had a positive impact on the relations between our States.

The cooperation between Cyprus and Austria is a longstanding and multidimensional one. And for this allow me to extend my thanks and gratitude to our Austrian partners for their professionalism and cooperation.

Allow me to focus on our joint efforts and cooperation in Common Security and Defence Policy training.

In cooperation with the Theresan Military Academy we developed the curriculum of the “Common Module on Leadership Course”.  Under this joint effort, Cyprus & Austria co-organized the module in Cyprus as a pilot activity in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, that curriculum was approved as a Common European Module, implemented fully or partially, by a number of military academies in the EU. This activity is being organized since, on an annual basis, always in cooperation with Austria.

Cyprus has also contributed to the Austrian initiative of the CSDP handbook series – a reference document which is broadly distributed in Europe and beyond;

Austria and Cyprus are amongst the biggest contributors of CSDP trainings under the European Security and Defence College and since last year started the co organization of initiatives like the current one.

Following the success of these efforts, the Cyprus Security and Defence Academy and the Austrian National Defence Academy, decided to continue their cooperation in 2023, through the joint organization of the “European Armaments Cooperation Course” to be held in Cyprus in November 2023 and to jointly organize the second module of the CSDP high level Course in November 2024.

Last but not least, we are preparing a joint organization of a new course on Defence Geo-economics, to be held in Brussels in November 2023 with a third partner from Belgium, the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, which has always supported Cyprus CSDP courses since 2009, with prominent speakers like Dr. Sven Biscop, who you will have the opportunity to listen to in a few minutes in the opening panel.

Before closing allow me to thank the 17 distinguished speakers and their sending institutions, and all the organizing staff for their contribution to this important common training event, bringing all this experience across the EU here in Cyprus. I would also like to thank the 31 participants from 13 EU Member States and their sending institutions.

I would also like to thank our partners for helping us delivering this course, the Austrian National Defence Academy , the European Parliaments office in Cyprus and the Member of the European Parliament Mr Costas Mavrides who is honouring us today with his participation in our opening panel.

Finally, I am very pleased to welcome and thank especially the Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Austria, Dr. Arnold Kammel. Dear Arnold, thank you so much for finding the time out of your busy schedule to be with us.

I would like to wish you all a pleasant and fruitful training and stay in Cyprus.