Cyprus will remain a safe haven for those in need, especially for the refugees who are forced to abandon their homes and families, Minister of Defence Savvas Aggelides stressed on Wednesday at the launching of the international maritime search & rescue exercise “Argonaut 2018”. Over 40 countries are taking part in or are observing the international maritime search & rescue exercise “Argonaut 2018” which takes place in Larnaca, 23 and 24 of May.
Noting that the exercise is the biggest one conducted in the Mediterranean, the Minister expressed his gratitude for the participation of so many countries, noting that “our cooperation has always been mutually beneficial and I am certain that it will continue as such, and be further improved, at all levels, in the common interest of our states”.
Referring to the region, he said that “the extremely sensitive status of the Middle East increases the possibility for non-combatant evacuation operations as a result of a conflict and/or crisis”.
He recalled that in 2006 more than 70.000 evacuees arrived in Cyprus from Lebanon, seeking for safe haven, while all competent authorities of the Republic had demonstrated unparalleled dedication and managed to successfully address the situation.
“Under this scope, our efficient cooperation is a crucial factor that may define the outcome of the operations that will take place, always within the framework of humanitarian operations in the Eastern Meditterenean” he added.
Noting that Cyprus has always been the crossroad of three continents and numerous civilizations with different cultures, Aggelides said that this constitutes a privilege that comes along with great responsibilities.
“Cyprus will remain a safe haven for those in need, especially for the refugees that are forced to abandon their homes and families to save their lives” he concluded.
Argonaut’s scenario this year simulates a non combatant evacuation from the Levant into Cyprus.
The exercise will include a search and rescue phase at the end of the week and a live exercise at Larnaca port simulating the arrival of large numbers of evacuees into Cyprus, with local authorities working alongside other nations to manage the situation.
Argonaut is conducted by the Ministry of Defence in coopeation with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice.
It will include four phases within the Nicosia FIR and Exclusive Economic Zone.