The government is taking “steady steps” to modernise and strengthen the National Guard, Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas said on Wednesday.

Giorgallas was speaking at a celebration held by the Air Force to commemorate the day of its patron saint the Archangel Michael, and said Cyprus’ defence forces are passing through a “particularly difficult period”.

He listed issues such as “the aggressive policy of Ankara, the emergence of new forms of hybrid warfare, geopolitical instability due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the recent rapidly evolving military conflict in Israel, with the risk of its expansion into a wider regional armed conflict with incalculable consequences.”

These matters, he said, “demand from us constant vigilance, the highest possible level of readiness, and continuous effort to upgrade the operational capabilities of the National Guard.”

To this end, he said “we are determined to commit and expend every ounce of our strength to protect what is at risk and defend what is ours.”