The Multinational CIMIC Exercise “ARGONAUT 2023” took place in the maritime, air and land area of the Republic of Cyprus and was successfully completed today. The exercise was conducted by the Ministry of Defence in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Civil Defence and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, under the general coordination of the National Guard, with the participation of many governmental agencies and services of the Republic of Cyprus.
The exercise was carried out in three phases in order to test the Special National Plans “ESTIA” and “TEFKROS”, which deal with the reception of non-combatants from neighboring countries, as well as to confront mass Search and Rescue incidents, within the area of responsibility of the Republic of Cyprus.
The first phase was coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Staff of the National Guard and included a tabletop exercise on the implementation of National Plan “ESTIA”, with a scenario of evacuation and reception of non-combatants from a crisis area. 16 state agencies of Cyprus participated in the scenario as well as representatives of the 18 countries that participate in the NEOCG (Non-combatant Evaluation Operations Coordination Group).
The second phase of the exercise was dealing with a Search and Rescue scenario and was conducted under the coordination of the JRCC Larnaka. The Special National Plan “TEFKROS” was implemented to deal with a naval and an aircraft accident, occurred in the Republic of Cyprus’ area of responsibility. A total of 38 aeronautical assets and services with 800 personnel from the Republic of Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, Italy, and Israel, participated in the SAR scenario.
The third and final phase of the exercise ARGONAUT, also considered as the Day of Distinguished Visitors (DVDay), was conducted in the afternoon of May 18th, 2023, with real life implementation of the National Plan “ESTIA”, to deal with the reception of non-combatants from foreign countries to Cyprus and their reception by the state agencies. The exercise was observed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Konstantinos Kompos, the Minister of Defence, Mr Michalis Giorgallas, the Chief of the National Guard, Lieutenant General Demokritos Zervakis, and Ambassadors or representatives of 25 countries, at the ZENON coordination Centre.
The objectives set by the Minister of Defence, as the responsible Minister for the overall coordination of the exercise, have been achieved, as the involved services during the implementation of the National Plans “ESTIA” and “TEFKROS” had the opportunity to evaluate their operational procedures, confronting the mass reception incidents of non-combatants and maintaining a high level of readiness to deal with similar incidents.
On the other hand, on international level, the successful implementation of the exercise highlighted the very important role that the Republic of Cyprus can play, as a hub for humanitarian operations and a pillar of stability in case of a crisis in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region. The importance of the exercise and the readiness of the state agencies was recently evaluated in a real-life crisis, during the evacuation operations executed for non-combatants from Sudan, where a total of 2611people, from 28 countries, were evacuated to Cyprus (safe heaven) and then repatriated to their homelands.