When it comes to Cyprus’ WGA-related efforts, the most transformation has occurred in the area of administrative structures and processes related to realising the country’s ambitions to become a centre of regional crisis management in the Eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, the Cypriot government has established the necessary policies, bodies and processes to operationalise its WGA to crisis management. For example, much work has been done to upgrade the performance of the Crisis Management Department discussed above and to ensure that it operates effectively. And ‘Zenon’, the basic national crisis-management plan, has been developed and complemented by a range of ministry-level ‘specific national plans’ outlining how the country should respond to a range of difference crisis scenarios, including attacks on energy infrastructure, health crises, terrorist attacks and a regional crisis triggering a large influx of refugees. The key one in terms of an external crises is ‘Estia’, the programme that aims to help authorities cope with an influx of third-country nationals fleeing from political crisis, military conflict or natural disaster.
However, it is less clear just how effective these policies have been in real terms across the entire government. While there is ample evidence to suggest that crises primarily involving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and/or the Ministry of Defence (e.g. a hijacking incident) can be managed very well, it is perhaps less clear how effectively other ministries could respond to threats that fall directly within their purview. While there may be a theoretical need to ensure that they are properly involved in managing such crises, it seems that it is only when the full details of the situation are known that the actual need for such cooperation becomes entirely clear. For example, the emergence of Ebola in West Africa as well as the realisation that students from that region were studying at universities in the North seemed to spur the Ministry of Health to consider how it would respond if a major outbreak of the disease occurred on the island. In addition, the Cypriot government now stages crisis-management exercises, often in conjunction with other regional countries and EU partners. In this sense, the country’s overall preparedness to manage crises has improved dramatically over recent years. Furthermore, having started with little expertise in the subject, there is clearly a desire to learn from other countries.