President Nikos Christodoulides on Tuesday expressed his support for the creation of a European Union defence commissioner.

The idea for the creation of such a post was first put forward by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in February.

She had told the Munich security conference at the time that “if I were to be the president of the next European Commission, I would have a commissioner for defence.”

The plan has already won support in the Netherlands and in Italy, with Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren saying, “I think it would be a good idea for the next European Commission to put this very high on the agenda.”

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani also gave his backing to the idea, saying “it is a proposal that I absolutely support. We need to be real actors in foreign policy.”

Christodoulides on Tuesday added his name to the list of supporters of the idea, saying the creation of such a position will “further strengthen the European Union’s defence and security.”

He added, “we are one of those member states which believe that the EU’s security and defence should be strengthened even more. We want the Republic of Cyprus through the National Guard to participate in EU missions.”

To this end, he said his government is “working together with other states which share our approach to strengthen the EU’s defence and security sector.”

Speaking about Cyprus’ own defence sector, he said the country “proven through very specific actions that it is a pillar of security and stability in the wider Middle East region, an area of particular geostrategic importance.”

At the same time, he said, “Cyprus, as an EU member state, has been under occupation for 50 years. So long as we are under occupation, strengthening the National Guard will be a top priority for all he Republic of Cyprus’ governments.”

He added that the National Guard and its needs, both in terms of infrastructure and equipment, “are very high on our list of priorities”.