NICOSIA - Israeli helicopters arrived Wednesday in Cyprus to participate in a common drill with the Republic of Cyprus, in the framework of bilateral agreements signed between the two countries, Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou said here today.
The Minister visited Wednesday the Larnaca Search and Rescue (S&R) Center and, in statements to the press, he noted that the exercise is taking place within the framework of agreements signed between the two countries for S&R activities and response to natural disasters.
Fotiou also spoke about his visit at the Larnaca S&R Center, which he described as an office of crucial importance and said that he was briefed about the role it plays in the Eastern Mediterranean region, “especially during these crucial times”.
He added that lives depend on the operation of the S&R Center and referred to the need to upgrade it. Cyprus has rights as well as obligations in its territorial waters, in the exclusive economic zone and at the Nicosia FIR, the Minister went on, adding that “we must respond to these obligations adequately and in a responsible manner”.
The Defence Minister also said that it is imperative to upgrade the operational capacity of Cyprus’ S&R due to rapid developments taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean concerning the energy field. He added that this could also strengthen the Republic’s contribution in protecting EU interests in a number of matters, like illegal immigration and humanitarian missions. The Minister also noted that this highlights the strategic location of Cyprus, in the crossroads of three continents.
Fotiou also said that within the framework of upgrading European S&R, the European Commission and the European Space Agency have recently selected Cyprus to host one of the three terrestrial European satellite S&R stations, citing this as an important development.
“This is an excellent occasion, since the station will cover the entire Eastern Mediterranean, making Cyprus an important hub for S&R in the region,” Fotiou said. - See more at: http://www.cna.org.cy/webnewsEN.asp?a=b60dec0d8196498b9c2b84859e8339e0#sthash.XYxkv2xA.dpuf