On Wednesday, 22 November 2023, the Bilateral Defence Programme (BDP) between the National Guard (GNF) and the Armed Forces (AF) of France for the years 2024 -2025 was signed at the General Headquarters of the National Guard General Staff. The BDP was signed on the part of the AF by the Director of the 4th Branch of the General Staff of the National Guard, Colonel Alkiviadis Alkiviadis and on the part of the French Armed Forces by Lieutenant Colonel Matthieu De La Rochere.
The BDP provides for the conduct of bilateral exercises, training and exchange of expertise on specialized issues of mutual interest both in Cyprus and France. In particular, it includes, inter alia, co-training on artillery, tactical unmanned aircraft, naval cooperation and deterrence, special and amphibious operations, civilian evacuation and search and rescue. It also provides for the participation of AF personnel in specialised training courses and seminars in France.
The signing of the Programme is considered to be particularly beneficial as it will enable the AF personnel to be co-trained with units of the French Armed Forces, thus promoting interoperability, an essential element for the conduct of joint operations. It is also tangible proof of the excellent relationship that has developed between the two countries' armed forces, as well as an indication of the intention to seize every opportunity to continuously expand cooperation in other areas of mutual interest.
The program is part of the wide range of bilateral and multilateral actions developed by the National Guard and expresses the commitment and will to upgrade regional and wider international cooperation in order to promote security, as it has been recognised that contemporary challenges and threats are common and cross-border and therefore their response requires multilateral and multifaceted action.
The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus, investing in strengthening Bilateral Relations, has developed cooperation in areas of common interest both with countries in the region and with many European and other countries. In addition, it has concluded Bilateral Agreements or Memoranda of Understanding on Defence Cooperation with Egypt, Armenia, France, France, UK, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Lebanon and Serbia , while the process of signing similar Bilateral Agreements with other countries is underway.
In this context of military cooperation with armed forces of foreign countries, Bilateral Defence Cooperation Programmes have been signed with the above countries and are being implemented. The participation of members of our Armed Forces in joint exercises and training programmes in Cyprus or abroad, as well as various exchanges of visits of officials of the Ministries of Defence and the Armed Forces of Cyprus with these countries constitute an important development and success of Defence Diplomacy as it externalizes and at the same time enhances the operational readiness of the Armed Forces.
At the same time, based on its Defence Policy, the Ministry of Defence has developed Trilateral Partnerships aimed at promoting peace, stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean. As such, Cyprus-Greece-Israel, Cyprus-Greece-Egypt and Cyprus-Greece-Armenia Trilateral Cooperation Programmes have been established, while cooperation with other neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon is also planned. The trilateral cooperation programmes include joint exercises and trainings between the Armed Forces of the 3 countries, without excluding the participation of more countries.
In addition, the exercise of active defence diplomacy through accredited Defence Attachés enhances the broader foreign policy of the Republic of Cyprus. To this end, Defence Attachés have been deployed in France with parallel accreditation in Italy, in Russia with parallel accreditation in Armenia, in the UK with parallel accreditation in Ireland, in Egypt with parallel accreditation in Jordan, in Israel and in the USA. It is noted that 26 countries have accredited Defence Attachés such as Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Ukraine, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA.