Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas emphasised the international and regional significance of the Argonaut-2023 exercise, with seven nations participating – including the UK and US.
The exercise coincided with the arrival of USS Arleigh Burke, a class guided-missile destroyer, at Limassol port – with Cmdr. Pete Flynn saying that “we’re thrilled to visit Cyprus”.
Speaking at the research and rescue coordination centre in Larnaca on Wednesday, where he observed the land and sea phase of the operation, Giorgallas stated that “the participation of seven nations in the exercise demonstrates its international and regional importance”.
He further noted that the “exercise showcases the willingness of all key sectors in the region to contribute to the maximum for effective and efficient cooperation during humanitarian operations”.
Argonaut-2023, he said, serves as the flagship multinational exercise and is a source of immense pride for the defence ministry.
Indeed, Flynn was quoted as saying in a US Navy press release that “this is an important stop in the strategically important Eastern Mediterranean”.
Giorgallas affirmed that “we are extremely proud of the efforts and work being carried out for its successful execution”.
Highlighting the exercises’ contribution to the country’s preparedness in crisis management and emergency situations related to humanitarian operations, he cited the recent Sudan crisis as an example. During the crisis, the operation facilitated the evacuation and repatriation of 2,600 civilians from 28 different nationalities from Sudan via Cyprus, which served a secure hub.
“The lessons learned from real-life actions will be used to improve the procedures described in the plans, and exercises like this will test the changes in practice and finalise the actions to be implemented by all the involved services,” Giorgallas added.
“We welcome the participation of all the aforementioned nations, as well as the observer countries, which demonstrates the exercise’s significance, it also showcases the willingness of all key actors in the region to contribute to the maximum for effective and efficient cooperation during humanitarian operations,” he emphasised.
Given our geopolitical position, Cyprus plays a crucial role as a secure refuge and utilizes its infrastructure, facilities, and services for our partner countries, he noted.
Giorgallas expressed confidence that cooperation efforts will continue and further improve at all levels.
Philippos Hadjizacharias, deputy minister of research, innovation and digital policy, was also present at the event.
He emphasised the ministry’s role in preparing and implementing national space strategy and Cyprus’ active participation in EU and ESA space programmes.
Space technologies, he emphasised, are of strategic importance for economic development, social welfare and cohesion, as well as for environment protection and bolstering public safety.
As the Argonaut-2023 exercise progresses, it not only enhances military readiness but also demonstrates the commitment of participating nations to global cooperation and effective humanitarian operations.