Fokaides: Exercises in Cyprus' EEZ underline our key role
Exercises taking place in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone highlight the role which the Republic can play as a factor of security, stability and regional cooperation in a region with geopolitical fluidity, conflicts and a source of terrorism upsurge, Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides has said.
The Minister was speaking on the sidelines of the large scale multinational Search and Rescue (SAR) exercise, titled “NEMESIS 2015,” conducted on Wednesday for the second consecutive year, within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, with the participation of SAR Units and personnel from Cyprus, the State of Israel, Greece, and the United States of America as well as SCARABEO-4 Oil Rig of SAIPEM S.p.A. and the support vessels of EDT.
He noted that Cyprus has been acknowledged even by more countries as a country promoting security, stability, peace and democracy in an era during which the international community, the EU and our neighbourhood must find ways to address the new challenges in the field of security deriving from disproportional threats, non-conventional threats due to terrorism upsurge.
The Minister warmly congratulated all the departments and services taking part in the exercise as well as the participating countries.
Replying to a question, Fokaides said that this exercise is not related with any procedure in connection with the drilling of natural gas from Cyprus` EEZ.
“What is important is that in any case we are getting ready to address any threat related to the maritime and energy security,” he noted.
Naval and Air SAR Units from the participating nations took part in the exercise under the operational control and full coordination of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Larnaca, in close cooperation with the corresponding Rescue Coordination Centers (RCCs) of Israel (RCC HAIFA), Greece (JRCC Piraeus) and the United States of America (NAVEUR/PRCC which is based in Naples, Italy).
The main objective of the aeronautical exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean was the planning, preparation and execution of a multinational joint SAR exercise in order to promote readiness for effective response in SAR missions and other humanitarian operations in the region.
The SAR exercise scenario, which was divided in four phases, dealt with a serious accident in open sea, within an area where Oil and Gas Rigs are operating along with their Supporting Vessels.
In particular, training exercises focused on MEDEVAC and SAR operations, confronting of maritime pollution, asymmetric threats and associated security issues that might arise either on cargo or passenger ships and/or platforms, within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean in general.
The exercise involved nine warships (five Israeli, two Greek, two CY Navy Command), the Oil Platform SCARABEO-4 of SAIPEM Energy Company, one support vessel to the platform, two antipollution vessels and the ALEXANDRIA Oil Tanker, which is financed by EMSA and operated by the Department of Merchant Shipping, two ships of the Port and Marine Police, four helicopters (two of the CPAU and two of the 460 SAR Sqn) as well as two airplanes (one of the HAF and one of the Forestry Department). Other participating units included the Underwater Demolition Team of the Navy Command of the National Guard, the Special Anti-terrorist Squad/Emergency Response Unit of the Cyprus Police, the Underwater Operations Unit of the Hellenic Coast Guard as well as medic rescue teams of the Ministry of Health, the Larnaca Civil Defence and NAVEUR/PRCC.
The results of the exercise will be an essential tool for improving the planning and preparation of the government services of the Republic, to deal with the main threats related to maritime and energy security.