7 Sep 2023 20:03

Armenia announces joint rescue exercise with EU of 'unprecedented character and scale'

YEREVAN. Sept 7 (Interfax) - Armenia will host a large-scale disaster response exercise under the aegis of the European Union's Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG-ECHO) on September 9-13, the Armenian Interior Ministry's Rescue Service said in a statement on Thursday.

"A three-day planning conference for the program, entitled Earthquake Management in South Caucasus Vulnerable Areas through Effective Planning, Reaction and Joint Operations, took place in Yerevan. Its aim was to present and prepare the scenario of the Hope 2023 large-scale exercise due to be held in Armenia on September 9-13, 2023," the statement said.

"The exercise of an unprecedented character and scale will take place entirely on Armenian territory" and "involve around 250 rescue workers, observers and experts from EU countries," the statement said.

The exercise aims to raise Armenia's readiness to respond to natural disasters, DG-ECHO Project Program Coordinator Mariangela Peliccia said.

Her Armenian counterpart, Rescue Service Col. Armine Airapetyan, said the main purpose of the exercise was to rehearse activation formats of the EU civil defense and aid delivery mechanism and test Armenia's capabilities, including its ability to facilitate and organize the arrival of foreign forces and their clearance through customs and border controls.

Previously, Armenia declined to take part in the Rock 2023 special rescue exercise staged by the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Belarus on September 1-6. Armenia's participation in the exercise was not envisioned, the Armenian Interior Ministry told Interfax at the time, explaining the decision in terms of its Rescue Service staff's high workload.