The multinational military exercise Argonaut 2022 drew to a close on Friday, helping prepare the island for any crisis situations, Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides said.
The exercise, held after a two year hiatus because of the pandemic, involved civilian and military units from Cyprus, Greece, the UK, France Egypt, the United States and Israel operating from air, sea and land. It aimed at testing the capabilities of multiple nations working together should an operation to evacuate non-combatants from a crisis area in the region and transferred to Cyprus be required.
“We must remain vigilant, able, and ready to facilitate our friends and allies for dealing with crisis situations and provide safe haven to those affected…Cyprus is willing and ready to assume this responsibility to secure the interests of our close partners and for the benefit of the international community,” Petrides said, addressing the final phase of the exercise at JRCC’ Zenon Coordination Centre expressed the Republic’s readiness.
“Our infrastructure and facilities will always be at the disposal of our partners aiding in humanitarian and crisis situations,” he added.
The minister said this exercise also contributes immensely to Cyprus’ preparedness and readiness in dealing with severe crisis incidents and emergency situations as national plans Estia and Tefkros would be implemented.
Moreover, the minister expressed his satisfaction over the long-standing partnerships with many countries and the expression of interest from new ones.
“This year we have 15 countries from the NEO Coordination Group that participated in the NEO phase of the exercise, eight countries that are taking part in the search and rescue phase as well as the EU’s External Action Service and the UN… for the first time Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia participate in this year’s exercise with military means and a high-level observer’s delegation respectively,” Petrides added.
The final phase entails the implementation of Tefkros and Estia in a scenario dealing with a serious maritime accident on high seas. Along with the minister, guests, diplomats and other observers from abroad were watching the final phase from Zenon centre.
Since its inception 15 years ago, Argonaut has been established as one of the leading civilian-military exercises internationally dealing with non-combatant evacuation operations.