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17-06-2021 19:53

Address by the Minister of Defence, Mr Charalambos Petrides, at the ceremony for National Guard Officers who will participate in the IMET program

Thank you for hosting us today at your residence. It is truly a great way to mark a very important milestone to the enhancement of our bilateral defence and security cooperation and ties.

The participation of National Guard officers in military training programmes and courses through IMET- the International Military Education Training Programme of the US – is indeed a watershed moment for which everyone here today should feel proud. In a few days the first Cypriot officers will travel to the US to attend highly prestigious training courses – the first candidates are here with us today – signalling the beginning of a new era and a very promising chapter in the Cyprus-US relationship. As the State Department recently noted in May 2021 the cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus is at a historic high.   

Training and Education through IMET, offers an invaluable opportunity for our officers to widen and expand their knowledge and horizons, create a long lasting network and enrich their professional skills that will enable them to fulfill their future goals and demanding duties. Importantly, it will also help solidify and build military to military inter-personal relations and create long lasting ties of friendship between US and Cypriot military officers. I would like to underline the importance we attach for training opportunities that stem from IMET for Cypriot officers. It will enable many of our officers to reach new goals, advance their potentials and enhance their skills.

Numerous developments during the last couple of years, such us the EastMed Act, access to IMET, the partial lifting of the arms embargo for non-lethal material through ITAR, the establishment of CYCLOPS and ongoing progress on various other Agreements and projects just to name a few have created a very promising and aspiring holistic framework for the defence and military cooperation between Cyprus and the United States of America. Hopefully, with the easing of travelling restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, we look forward to hosting high level officials from the US Department of Defence to Cyprus to assess our cooperation so far and discuss future prospects.

I would like to assure you that we will continue our objective of deepening and enhancing our bilateral defence cooperation. Cyprus and the US share the objective of regional defence and security cooperation for promoting regional peace, stability and prosperity as well as for addressing threats ranging from terrorism to climate change. Both countries participate in military exercises with other countries in the region and we look forward to possible US participation in some of our trilateral formations in a 3+1 format.

Allow me to thank the Ambassador and her Staff at the US Embassy in Nicosia and of course the Defence Attache for the valuable support and guidance given to our respective staff and officers in preparation of our participation in IMET. Please convey my sincere appreciation to the US Government for the immense support provided as we are about to embark on this new chapter of our defence and military partnership.

Dear Ambassador, dear Judith, once again thank you for your gracious hospitality. I have to say that, when we reach the next milestone, which hopefully will be the purchase of non-lethal military equipment from the US, we will host you in the Ministry of Defence, to mark that important occasion!