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25-04-2024 15:48

Welcome address by the Chief of the National Guard General Staff, Lieutenant General Georgios Tsitsikostas

I am delighted to extend a warm welcome today to the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Robert Brieger.


It is a great honour for us to welcome you at our headquarters today, and I would like to thank you for accepting my invitation to pay an official visit in Cyprus.

It is indeed a very timely visit that will offer us the opportunity to also exchange views and assessments on all the ongoing strategic developments regarding the European security and defence agenda.

In particular, the critical security situation in Europe, due to the long going conflict in Ukraine, but also the deteriorating situation in Israel and in the Red Sea, which resulted to the launch of operation ASPIDES by the European Council, pose significant security global challenges.

Regarding our close area of interest, I often state that geography is destiny. Cyprus, being situated at the crossroads of three continents, has diachronically been a focal point for conflicts and geostrategic developments. Due to the volatile clashes and the war in the Middle East since October, our region is once again experiencing heightened geopolitical instability, waking up of frozen conflicts and wars that increase all existing conventional and asymmetric threats and challenges, whose direct impact goes far beyond regional stability and threaten world peace.

Yet, beyond geography, there are also other facts and realities that cannot dramatically change. Cyprus, being a small-sized country, does not have unlimited resources. Moreover, those means and capabilities available are primarily utilised for national missions in order to address the internal security situation. The occupation of almost half of the island offers no other option but to have as first national priority the deterrence of the existing threat until the reunification of the island. We are also struggling to address other forms of national security issues, such as the constant increasement of migration flows from conflict zones to Cyprus that have gone far beyond our capabilities.

Nevertheless, we remain focused and consistent in availing as efficiently as possible our scarce resources and capabilities as well as our infrastructure, strategic facilities and services to the European and international peace efforts and initiatives. We have done it several times in the past. We have been repeating it since October 2023 for facilitating the effort to increase readiness for the evacuation of civilian population from the war zone in Gaza. And we are doing it now, alongside with other partners and the European Union, through the implementation of the AMALTHEA Plan for establishing a maritime corridor to provide humanitarian aid to those in need.

And we, the National Guard, together with all relevant agencies of the Republic of Cyprus stand ready and have the willingness and ability to work collectively with friends and allies to deal and assist in any way we can with similar crises in the future.

At the same time, such a complex and highly interrelated security environment has no boundaries, and it is more obvious than ever that nobody can go alone. We are far stronger and effective when efforts are joint, and we, the Republic of Cyprus, as every Nation, also envisage and seek international support on issues that need to be addressed collectively.

Dear General,

The Republic of Cyprus since its accession to the European Union – actually, next week, on the 1st of May, we are celebrating 20 years, since 2004, of being part of this big family – has made significant steps forward with regard to adopting and integrating the European agenda. The Republic of Cyprus, through the MFA, the MoD and its Armed Forces, the National Guard, is an active contributor to all the actions taken within the Common Security and Defence Policy framework, currently defined by the “Strategic Compass” agenda, aiming to make our Union a stronger and more capable security provider, able to protect its citizens and to contribute to international peace and security.

Availing the opportunity of hosting you, I wish to highlight the important role of the European Union Military Committee; firstly, as the supreme decision-making and executive body on European military affairs, and secondly, as the key advisory think-tank where the collective experience of all 27 Member States’ Armed Forces is gathered assessed and provide advice to relevant Council authorities that exercise the political control of all EU CSDP activities, executive operations, missions and other tasks. I also wish to emphasise the critical role of the Chairman of our committee, and in particular, allow me, dear General, to praise your personal commitment, constant engagement, enthusiasm and leadership work as the current Chairman, and the outstanding way you communicate the collective voice of this distinguished body on all security and defence issues worldwide 

In closing, these two days offer us a unique opportunity to present to you an update on the current state of play and our future planning as far as our national contribution to this common effort. I consider it also a great opportunity for some preliminary exchanges on all the ongoing CSDP agenda developments and major priorities implementation, just two weeks before our regular meeting with all the 27 EU Member States’ Chiefs of Defence on the 15th of May in Brussels.

Once more, I extend my heartfelt welcome, and I am looking forward for our discussions that will follow.

The floor is yours.