President Nicos Anastasiades reiterated on Wednesday that as long as the Turkish army continued to occupy part of the island’s territory and questions the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, it was the National Guard’s primary duty to secure, as a deterrent force, peace and security.
Speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of the Chief of the National Guard Ilias Leontaris, who has been reappointed, and the new Deputy Chief of the National Guard Constantinos Chrysiliou, Anastasiades said that the deployment of Cyprus’ military forces has always been and will continue to be defensive and not offensive.
“This is how we will continue acting and this is the policy we shall apply, strengthening our diplomatic efforts and backed by the National Guard, as a deterrent force,” he said. Anastasiades said there was great unrest in the wider region, with new threats and dangers.
At the same time, he said, the prospects created from the discovery of new natural gas reserves both by Cyprus and by neighbouring countries, created new geostrategic dynamics, “which we are called to handle in a calm manner, taking advantage of the international and European security system, which we loyally serve.”
Addressing Leontaris and Chrysiliou, the President said that they were undertaking their duties during a decisive period for the country, especially for the National Guard. He referred to plans to transform the National Guard with a view to meet current needs and challenges.
He also talked about Cyprus’ participation in the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco). “We are upgrading our active presence in the EU institutions, and at the same time through the international cooperation we have developed – with more than 40 agreements and programmes of military cooperation – we strengthen our country’s role in the region,” Anastasiades said.
On their part, the National Guard Chief and the Deputy Chief reassured Anastasiades that they would do their utmost to fulfill their duties and upgrade the National Guard’s effectiveness and operational performance.