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Vafeadis: The strengthening of the regional role of Cyprus is important

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    International Conference entitled “Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity in the Civil and Air Force”

    The government, recognizing the role of aviation, considers strengthening the regional role of Cyprus and increasing the air connectivity of the country to be of strategic importance, the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Alexis Vafeadis said today.

    The Minister was speaking at an International Conference entitled “Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity in the Civil and Air Force”, organized in Larnaca by “The Flight Safety Foundation – Mediterranean” and the “European Association of Aviation Training Organizations”.

    Mr. Vafeadis said in his greeting that “the progress in aviation is of great economic political and social importance. In addition, it can affect the safety of billions of people worldwide who travel by plane every year”.

    He added that “recognizing the role of aviation, the government considers the strengthening of Cyprus' regional role to be of strategic importance >, increasing the air connectivity of the country, the further development of the capabilities of the Civil Aviation Authority and the modernization of air navigation services and its systems”.

    As Mr. Vafeadis said, “our skies are no longer limited by conventional boundaries. Artificial intelligence and cybersecurity have the potential to unlock endless possibilities but can also present significant challenges.”

    The Civil Aviation, he continued “faces multidimensional challenges. The rapid increase in air traffic, aging infrastructure and climate change require innovative solutions”, he said and wondered how artificial intelligence can optimize flights, strengthen safety protocols, reduce the environmental footprint and how we can protect aviation networks from cyber threats.

    As the Minister of Transport said “military aviation operates in a high-risk environment, from stealth fighters to reconnaissance drones, our armed forces rely on advanced technology.” “However, vulnerabilities remain” he noted and raised the question of how “we can strengthen military systems against cyber threats and how artificial intelligence affects combat readiness”.

    After saying that these discussions “are of vital importance” Mr. Vafeadis noted that “education is the foundation of excellence”.“Aviation professionals, pilots, controllers, engineers and analysts must stay ahead of developments” he said and noted that “collaboration and research initiatives will shape our shared future and support the fight against cyber threats”.

    In his own greeting, Andreas Loukas, Director General of the Ministry of Defensesaid that “the Republic of Cyprus, located at a complex geopolitical crossroads, attaches the utmost importance to safe air transport. Committed to peace, stability and prosperity, the Republic of Cyprus is committed to improving aviation security while strengthening its cybersecurity resilience against emerging threats.”

    He added that “the Ministry of Defence, aligned with the national security strategy, it is committed to promoting innovation, strengthening military capabilities and building partnerships both regionally and internationally. In recent years, the Ministry of Defense implemented new structures and procedures with the creation of a special Department of Research and Innovation”.

    In this Department, he continued, “all research and innovation responsibilities have been assigned at the national, European and bilateral cooperation level with other countries”.

    He also noted that “through investments in research and development, the cooperation with industry stakeholders and participation in multinational programs, the Ministry of Defense also aims to strengthen its aviation capabilities while ensuring its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

    “Primary emphasis is on promoting innovations in cyberspace and artificial intelligence,” he said.

    However, said Mr Loukas, “such a complex issue requires a more integrated national approach that integrates various efforts and includes technological innovation, strong regulatory frameworks and collaboration between stakeholders in many sectors to ensure safe, ethical and effective use of these advanced technologies. The Ministry of Defense expresses its readiness to participate in this effort,” he concluded.

    In his own greeting, Alessio Quaranta, President of EATEO(European Association of Aviation Education and Training Organisations) stated that “in aviation, education and training are a fundamental factor in maintaining safety and the development of transport in general. However, the Training and Education Organizations are not collectively represented in the relevant international and European bodies”.

    As a result of this, he continued, “decisions were made without any input from those who are expected to implement them. Moreover, the absence of such representative organizations has not allowed the adoption of common practices in the field of training, as is the case in all other aviation activities.”

    For these reasons he stated “and in order to fill this gap, FSF-MED, in 2018, with the encouragement and cooperation of many other Foundations, established EATEO with a base and offices in Cyprus. Initially we started with only 8 members and today the Organization has 42 members from various regions such as Europe, Africa, Asia, the USA and the Middle East”.

    Kostas Mavridis, President of Committee of the European Parliamentfor the Mediterranean and a candidate for re-election to the European Parliament, stated in his own greeting that “there are cases where air transport is used as a political instrument between countries, such as for example the legal ban by Turkey on Cypriot airlines from using its airspace after the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus with enormous effects on the Cypriot economy, trade and tourism”.

    He also referred to Turkey's “illegal actions within the Nicosia FIR which inevitably lead to risks to flight safety, risks recognized by the European Union, ICAO and other international organizations.” I have repeatedly raised this specific issue with the Transport Commissioner and the President of the European Commission and will continue to do so since it has to do with the safety of 60 million people who travel every year within the Nicosia FIR,” he said.

    Costas Mavridis also referred to “the regional role that Cyprus can play in the important sector of air transport and in general to the stability of the region” referring to the opening of the humanitarian corridor to Gaza that Cyprus started.

    He noted also that “Cyprus, as the only country in the region that is a member of the EU and Eurocontrol, can also play a key role in security and other aspects of aviation in the politically and militarily troubled region of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean”.

    “Furthermore, the EU and its institutions, which are practically absent from the region, can work with the Cypriot authorities to fulfill this regional role,” he said. Mr. Mavridis concluded that Cyprus “can be a regional center of the EU for the promotion of the interests of the Union”.

    More than 90 people are participating in the Conference, with speakers from almost all the relevant International and European Organizations. as well as from several countries from Europe, the USA, Asia and the Middle East.

    The work of the Conference was attended, among others, by the Ambassadors to Cyprus of Israel and Qatar.

    Source: cyprustimes.com

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