Cyprus needs to exploit its own capabilities in the field of space technologies, Transport Minister, Marios Demetriades said on Monday
Addressing the International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of Environment in Paphos, Demetriades said that space technologies are of strategic importance for economic growth, social prosperity and cohesion, protection of the environment, enhancing public security and civil defence, and for the promotion of excellence in science, research and innovation.
“In this rapidly evolving sector, where most States and companies actively participate, Cyprus needs to exploit its own capabilities,” he said, adding that “recognizing this strategic importance, Cyprus has set its priorities, which are the sectors of satellite communications, earth observation, space navigation, and the enhancement of relations with the European Space Agency (ESA)”.
Demetriades said Cyprus wants to be part of the space development and to benefit from the space systems that are essential today for the well-being and security of European citizens.
In this context, the ministry is working towards the development of the appropriate structures and procedures, aiming in an active participation in European Space Policy.
The Minister said Cyprus, as a member state of the EU, actively participates in the Horizon 2020, Galileo and Copernicus EU Programmes, which will help Research and Innovation, as well as other sensitive sectors of the economy.
Cyprus is proud to host one of the three Galileo ground stations known as MEOLUTS (Medium Earth Orbiting Local User Terminals) that will support the implementation of the COSPAS-SARSAT System for search and rescue, the minister said.
Installation of the MEOLUT station in Cyprus has been completed and tests for the operation of the system are being carried out by the European Commission.
In 2009, Cyprus signed a five-year cooperation agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is the first stage for full membership.
Under this agreement, Cyprus has secured its participation, as observer, on ESA boards and committees.
In February this year, Cyprus expressed its willingness to re-launch the discussions with ESA aiming at the signature of the European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement, thus further strengthening its cooperation with ESA.
He said knowledge of the procedures of ESA programmes is limited among Cypriot industry and institutions, adding that the ECS cooperation is viewed as a positive step in increasing this knowledge and fostering a relevant experience.
“An adequate space industrial policy should be defined with the support of ESA. In this context a stable support and interface structure in Cyprus will be essential, as well as a clear strategy defining priorities and guidelines in the context of Cypriot capabilities, capacities and targets,” he noted.
In addition, around 3-5 per cent of the ESA contribution could be dedicated to education activities to prepare young engineers and scientists.
“By signing the ECS Agreement, we expect to promote innovation and research, attracting foreign investments, creating new jobs and get more EU funds,” he said.
The themes of today`s conference are linked to the potential areas of cooperation in Cyprus, said Demetriades.
He said satellite operators, as well as organizations that provide satellite communications services as integrated solutions, are established in Cyprus or are studying the possibility either to invest or to use existing infrastructure in Cyprus.