The Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Trade and Industry discussed the actions taken by the Ministry of Defense for the development of a high-tech defense industry using funds under the EU's Permanent Structural Cooperation (PESCO).
According to the Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriakos Kokkinos, the way in which the cooperation of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Commerce with the Ministry of Research and Innovation will strengthen the way in which they exploit and utilize the opportunities offered through European funding for security research and innovation and how this research and innovation can be done in collaboration with the private sector. This, he added, is something that is already happening and there is an excellent team of scientists both in the Ministry of Defense, in the private sector and in the Universities that have been entrusted with funds for research in the field of defense industry.
He added that they expect from these funds, which in the period 2021-2027 amount to 8 billion euros, Cyprus to claim a large share in order to maximize the benefits that can arise.
He also said that the issue of technology in the defense industry is extremely important, but also through the approach of dual use of technology, the technology developed for the defense industry with the appropriate adaptation, can be used for commercial use. He noted that mainly in Israel and the US, the technologies of the defense industry are then available in the commercial sector, citing GPS technology and the Internet as examples.
Asked in which areas the Cypriot companies have the potential to develop, he said that this can be done in the field of cyber security, in the field of use of unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance or for political surveillance purposes, for rescue action but also for military purposes. These, as he said, are examples that can be used by the defense industry and for commercial uses or in other state services such as the police, the fire department but also for the study of climate change.
The Chairman of the Committee on Energy, Trade and Industry, Andreas Kyprianou, stated in his statements that today everyone understands the huge potential that exists for the Cypriot high-tech industry for research and innovation through PESCO programs.
He added that organization and coordination are needed for Cyprus to be successfully involved in the process and get its share of the 8 billion euros that will be allocated over the next six years. He added that Cyprus must participate in all programs in cooperation with other European countries, such as France and Greece, in order to participate in the development of European defense systems.
He also said that in order for Europe to have a future, it must have a unified Defense and Security policy, and in order to have that, it must have a European army. He added that in order to have a European army, it would have to develop its own deterrence systems.
He also mentioned that many programs are in the pipeline, such as that of the European corvette.
“Cyprus has the minds, it has the university systems, it has the private industrialists – scientists who can be involved and I am happy because today, in addition to the Ministry of Defense, the Deputy Minister of Innovation has taken the role of coordinator,” he said.
AKEL MP Costas Costa stated that the party's position is that PESCO refers directly to the creation of a Euromilitary and that Cyprus should be a bridge of peace and cooperation of the peoples of the region and not a training ground or stronghold of foreign armies.
Regarding the development of a high-tech defense industry in Cyprus, utilizing PESCO funds, he reminded that for 20 years the creation of a Science and Technology Park has been promoted as a basic infrastructure for the production of research, innovation and high technology in Cyprus, as well as a tool for development of entrepreneurship and smart specialization.
This project, he added, has been canceled by the Government and asked the Government to proceed first with this very important project and then to create infrastructure to build weapons systems.