Welcome to Cyprus, welcome to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center.
It is with great pleasure that we host once again this very important Exercise. Exercise Argonaut is our flagship multinational Exercise and we at the Ministry of Defense are extremely proud for the effort and work done with you all for its successful execution.
This contributes immensely to our preparedness and readiness to deal with severe crisis incidents and emergency situations related with humanitarian operations. Recent reality, with the crisis in Sudan, revealed the importance of exercise ARGONAUT with the evacuation and repatriation of 2600 citizens of 28 different nationalities from Sudan via Cyprus, which was acting as a safe haven.
Lessons learnt from real life operations will be used for the improvement of the procedures described in the plans, while exercises, such as this one, will test in practice the changes and finalize the actions needed to be implemented by all the involved services.
Exercise Argonaut, commenced on Tuesday with the activation and evaluation of the national Plan “ESTIA”, with the whole preparation starting months prior to the actual start of the exercise and for this I would like to commend everyone who has been involved in the planning, on a national and international level.
Today, we are present here today to observe part of the exercise, the SAR phase, coordinated by the JRCC Larnaca with the participation of assets and personnel from seven countries, namely Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
We welcome the participation of all the above States, and of all observer countries which proves the international and regional importance of exercise ARGONAUT.
It also demonstrates the willingness of all the key actors in the region to contribute the maximum for an effective and efficient cooperation during humanitarian operations.
Given our geopolitical location, Cyprus has a crucial role to play acting as safe haven and by availing infrastructures, facilities and services to our partner countries.
I am absolutely confident that the efforts for cooperation will continue and be further improved - at all levels - in the common interest of all and especially of benefit of those need any kind of humanitarian assistance, either because of evacuation or because of maritime or aeronautical accident within the FIR of Nicosia.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank you for your presence here today and wish you a pleasant and productive stay in Cyprus.