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12-10-2021 14:26

Remarks by the Minister of Defence, Mr Charalambos Petrides, at the Meeting with representatives from Cypriot R&D companies and entities involved in EDA and EDIDP projects

Thank you all for being here today. It is really a great opportunity to be able to host the Chief Executive of the EDA and representatives of our emerging ecosystem of R&D companies and entities active in the domain of European capabilities and projects. We had the chance to meet recently at the workshop we organised with the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce on the 21st of September.

Jiri also had the opportunity to meet some of you and gain knowledge regarding the work you undertake in the context of the Ministry’s participation at the Defence Exhibition in Athens (DEFEA). That was our first ever attempt to participate at the Defence Exhibition with our home grown defence industries. I am humbled to say that it was a very proud moment that is promising for what the future holds.

At the outset, allow me to praise the EDA for its unwavering commitment and professionalism for helping its participating member states to engage in collaborative projects for European capabilities.

Cyprus is committed in advocating the further enhancement of CSDP and achieving the goal of European autonomy. Thus, a main pillar of our foreign and defence policy is – of course to the extent possible- to have a keen interest and participation to relevant European initiatives such us PESCO and EDA projects. 

To that end and despite the fact that we do not have a defence industry in the strict sense of the term, we have managed over recent years to create a relatively significant R&D footprint, especially in EDA projects and PESCO Projects.

My main takeaways, or lessons learned, on using EU defence initiatives is that all various initiatives have created new opportunities that we need to grasp. In our case, it has been an enabling process, as it led us first to establish the Research and Innovation Unit at the Cyprus MoD, second to create our own national defence R&D scheme titled ATHENA, and third, to create our own national ecosystem of SMEs, start-ups, research centres etc.

As said earlier, DEFEA 2021 was a ground-breaking moment for the Ministry of Defence of Cyprus. We had our first ever participation of Cypriot companies active in EU defence capabilities projects. This development would have been unheard of some years ago. It was a watershed moment for us which hopefully will generate a greater interest back home.

In a way, this meeting today, signals what can be achieved when there is close public-private sector cooperation and forward looking approach for grasping opportunities that exist in the EU. We want more Cypriot companies and research centres to take an interest to the area of defence. We want to have more, especially young, researchers seeking to innovate and take advantage of the immense opportunities that now exist through the European Defence Fund.

The pandemic has taught us for the need to be vigilant, resilient and invest to innovation. The EDA’s work to this changing landscape is of paramount importance for addressing future and emerging threats stemming from disruptive technologies, hybrid and climate change. EDA is well placed to provide necessary support to EU member states for the development of military capabilities.

I want to encourage everyone here today to take the opportunity and ask questions, seek clarifications, exchange ideas, lessons learned and best practices.

I am sure that, Jiri will provide you with ideas for future opportunities that exist and how best you can benefit from imminent European defence initiatives.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the industrial, research, scientific and academic community of Cyprus for the incredible steps forward and their effective cooperation with the Ministry of Defence.

Thank you all for your attention, I look forward to a stimulating and enriching discussion.