The Crisis Management Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds the responsibility for the risk evaluation in possible crisis situations, as well as to provide recommendations to the Permanent Secretary, regarding the suitable actions for best management of every crisis. In the possibility of a large scale crisis then the Crisis Management Department is functioning exclusively under the chair of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.
Lisbon Treaty and consular protection of European citizens
The right to diplomatic and consular protection constitutes an essential entitlement of citizenship of the European Union. This right marks the extension of the institution of EU citizenship to outside the borders of Member States. In that sense, Article 23 of the Lisbon Treaty states that
“Every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a third country in which the Member State of which he is a national is not represented, be entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any Member State, on the same conditions as the nationals of that State. Member States shall adopt the necessary provisions and start the international negotiations required to secure this protection.”
The citizen’s right to receive consular protection from a Member States under the same conditions which apply for the citizens of the Member State in question, is one of the special rights where the Treaty provides to the EU citizens and states an external dimension to the meaning of EU citizenship. This right enforces the idea of European solidarity, as well as the EU identification in third countries.
AIM OF CRISIS MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT
• Repatriation of Cypriot citizens during crisis situations, as well as other Europeans or third country nationals,
• Formation of evacuation plans in high-risk areas worldwide,
• Publishing Travel Advices,
• Preparing Risk assessment reports on certain high-risk countries,
• Implementation of “ESTIA” plan,
EVALUATION OF CRISIS
It is of crucial importance the correct and complete evaluation of the incoming information from the Embassies within the territory or close to the crisis area.
On a European level, the Member States have the central role for the coordination of the crisis management, with the support of the European External Action Service (EEAS). For the maximization of impact and immediate response the EEAS and the Council Presidency organize in a small period of time teleconferences, the Member States use online information exchange platforms, which functions within the framework of the Joint EU Situation Centre. All these are used as reliable information sources for continue situation evaluation and taking immediate action.
On a national level, the National Centre of Crisis Management (NCCM) is activated. The NCCM is hosted in the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the other participating Ministries are: Ministry of Justice and Public Order, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior.
After the evaluation of a provisional crisis, relevant Travel Advices are published to inform the citizens of the Republic, which are uploaded to the Ministry’s website.
DIFFERENT KIND OF CRISIS
1. Terrorists attacks
2. Political instability or armed clashes
3. Natural destructions
In all the above cases, during the last years, the MFA has taken action and has led to, either the repatriation of Cypriot citizens or their location and protection.
CYPRIOT CITIZENS IN A CRISIS AREA
To locate any Cypriots that are in a crisis area, the Ministry is supported by information from:
1. The data coming from the Embassies of the Republic
2. The relevant services of the EU Member States or other Third countries
3. Travel agencies which organize excursions in crisis areas and
4. From the families of the affected citizens, both in location and from Cyprus
In case that it is considered appropriate the Ministerial Team is called (with the participation of Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Justice and Public Order and Ministry of Interior) with the chair of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they proceed with the activation of the NCCM when the crisis affects Cypriots and European citizens or the general interests of the Republic of Cyprus.
The Lebanon crisis, in summer 2006, was a challenge for the readiness of Cyprus, the organization and coordination for the repatriation of more than 60,000 European citizens and citizens of Third Countries. The successful crisis management of Lebanon established the Republic of Cyprus capable to develop effective methods for the coordination of the relevant Ministries and other involved government services.
Adding to that, the creation of the national plan “ESTIA”, which was considered a necessity after the Lebanon incidents, is today the cornerstone of readiness in order to deal with similar incident in future. The aim of the plan is the coordinated and effective reaction of the Authorities and Services of the State in the possibility of large scale entrance in Cyprus of a number of refugees/citizens of third countries from a neighbor country where a political crisis, military clash or natural destruction is ongoing.
The “ARGONAFTIS 2012” exercise will take place, like every year, in cooperation with all the involved authorities from the different Ministries of the Republic as well as staff from other countries for:
The verification of readiness degree for crisis management to the wider M. East area which includes, among other:
· Citizens transportation
Search and rescue in Nicosia FIR and in the area between Cyprus-M. East for handling asymmetrical threats
The exercise will take place in October 2012.
The whole coordination of the Services which contribute to the work of the Crisis Management Department of the MFA takes place in the Crisis Coordination Centre of the MFA, a fully equipped room with all the necessary communication means to an effective crisis management
For more information you may contact the Department with the following means:
Important information could also be found in the relevant website of the European Commission as well as from the travel advices of the Member States for each crisis area:
Consular Protection for EU Citizens
The Communication Paper of the European Commission (23/03/2011):