Ensuring peace is National Guard’s main duty as long as Turkish troops are in Cyprus, President says

Ensuring peace is National Guard’s main duty as long as Turkish troops are in Cyprus, President says

Ensuring peace and security for the citizens remains the primary duty of the National Guard, as long as the Turkish troops are on the island, President Nicos Anastasiades said Monday, speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of the Deputy Chief of the National Guard Lieutenant Andreas Papapavlou, who remains in the post for another term.

The ceremony took place at the Presidential Palace in the presence of Minister of Defence Christoforos Fokaides and Chief of the National Guard, Lieutenant Georgios Basiakoules, according to an official press release.

“The current period is characterized by severe turbulence in our region. New risks are presented, new threats and new war outbreaks. Terrorism in its worst form is a few dozen kilometers away from the coast of Cyprus, and the challenge of the refugee wave caused by the unstable conditions in a large part of North Africa have intensified concerns, which is our duty to address not only as a country very close to the Middle East, but also as a member of the European Union” the President said.

Anastasiades noted that despite the ongoing talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot side to solve the Cyprus problem, the Turkish army remains on the island. “I want to send the message that as long as the Turkish army remains on the island, ensuring peace and security for our citizens remains the primary duty of the National Guard, and this goes both to the Head of the National Guard and the Defense Minister,” he said.

The President underlined the prospects created by the discovery of new gas fields by Cyprus and neighboring countries, friendly to it, saying that this development creates new geostrategic dynamics. He added that Cyprus closely collaborates with neighboring countries to develop these fields “to the benefit of our countries and the European Union itself which maintains high expectations for a new safe energy channel focusing on the region and particularly our country”.

He then noted that in this framework the National Guard must be effective in order for Cyprus to ensure its presence and protect its interests in its Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The Turkish threat – as I said – is still there but at the same time the geopolitical conditions have changed radically” the President said, adding that the National Guard must adjust to and this should be one of the goals that the effort for the reorganisation of the National Guard, now at its final stage, should serve.

UN-backed talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus-the Greek Cypriot community and the Turkish Cypriot community-resumed in May this year, with a view to reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, under a federal roof.

CNA/KD/GV/2015
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY