Cyprus aims to strengthen its involvement in the EU’s common defence and security policy (CSDP), Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas said on Monday during a CSDP orientation course in Larnaka.

The country seeks to enhance the operational capabilities of its national guard and establish itself as a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, the minister said at the event – which is running until Friday.

Giorgallas expressed strong support for the EU’s strategic autonomy, an issue which gained central attention, emphasisng its role in providing security to member states and promoting peace in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Giorgollas cited comments made by the EU’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, on the EU’s strategic autonomy.

The minister referenced Borrell in that it “is not a magic wand but a process, a long-term one, intended to ensure that Europeans increasingly take charge of themselves,” adding that “he is correct. The concept as such is not new. In fact, strategic autonomy has been part of the agreed language of the EU for quite a long time”.

Giorgallas further stated that Cyprus is actively promoting a common European security and defense culture through training activities. Over the past two years, he said, the security and defense academy organised twelve international events, covering topics such as cyber security, climate change, project management in EU missions, and gender mainstreaming. These initiatives have fostered collaboration among EU member states and neighboring partners.

Building on the success of these endeavors, Cyprus has planned several international activities for the current year in partnership with Austria, Belgium, Romania, Poland, the UK, the USA, the European Commission, and the European Defence Agency.

Giorgallas highlighted the positive impact of these cooperative efforts, which have strengthened state institutions, fostered understanding, and improved inter-state relations.

Cyprus and Austria have a longstanding cooperation in the defense sector, he emphasised.

The minister explained that the two jointly developed the “Common Module on Leadership Course,” which has been implemented by multiple EU military academies. Cyprus has also contributed to Austria’s CSDP handbook series.

Looking ahead, the Cyprus security and defence academy and the Austrian national defence academy will continue their cooperation by organizing the “European Armaments Cooperation Course” in November 2023 and the second module of the CSDP high-level Course in November 2024.

Finally, a new course on defence geo-economics will be held in Brussels in November 2023 in collaboration with the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations.

The CSDP orientation course in Larnaka brought together participants from 11 EU member states and Iraq, representing various governmental bodies and institutions. The course provided insights into the CSDP framework, policies, and activities, facilitating knowledge sharing among participants and CSDP professionals from the Middle East and North Africa region. Certificates signed by EU High Representative Josep Borrell will be awarded to successful participants upon completion of the course and accompanying online modules.