It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Cyprus and to the ICAO EUR Search and Rescue Workshop and the Search and Rescue Exercise.

Allow me to express my satisfaction in seeing such a significant and enthusiastic participation, which underscores the high importance of this event.

Firstly, let me take this opportunity to convey our thanks to ICAO and to our JRCC for organizing this workshop.

We greatly appreciate the role of ICAO in providing a safe global aviation environment.

The two Ministries, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Transport act as the Search and Rescue coordinators of the Republic of Cyprus.

We have made every possible effort to constantly upgrade our Search and Rescue System as we are fully aware of our role in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

A reliable Search and Rescue System provides a safer and more secure environment for both aviation and maritime activities.

The staff of our JRCC Larnaca and ICAO office in Paris have prepared an ambitious and challenging agenda for this two-day workshop which also includes a Search and Rescue Exercise.

For this reason, I am confident that by the end of this event, we will have accomplished another step towards the important mission of the Search and Rescue System which is in distress to save human lives.

A crucial success factor for SAR operations is the establishment of efficient and effective multi-national cooperation.

The organization of workshops and exercises like this one can serve as valuable tools in achieving higher levels of such cooperation.

Today, your presence here and the participation of representatives from more than 34 countries, highlights the importance of such cooperation and stress the need for the development of those mechanisms and procedures that will facilitate our collaboration in the field.

Assisting anyone in distress as first responders within the NICOSIA FIR, which defines the boundaries of our Search and Rescue area of responsibility, holds significant importance for the Republic of Cyprus.

Within the scope of this mission, Search and Rescue (SAR) forces frequently offer capabilities for the initial response to both natural and man-made disasters, incidents, or crises.

Search and Rescue operations are a perfect example of civilian-military cooperation.

For this purpose, the Ministry of Defense assigns military personnel, primarily from the Navy and Air Force, to our Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC).

This is done with the objective of ensuring the effective and adequate fulfillment of the center's demanding mission.

As it was previously mentioned, regional cooperation between Cyprus and all neighboring countries is of great importance.

Given the significant rise in migration flows towards our island, our cooperation has become increasingly crucial.

It is not an exaggeration to state that we encounter Search and Rescue (SAR) events nearly on a daily basis, ranging in urgency levels for individuals in distress.

This is the reason why cultivating common understanding and sharing knowledge is of utmost importance.

I extend my best wishes to all of you for a successful Search and Rescue workshop and hope you have a memorable stay on our island.

Enjoy your time in Cyprus.