We are going through a period of instability in both the wider international and regional systems, where revisionists, such as Turkey, choose to fill security gaps through the path of conflict. However, despite the challenges, as distinguished analysts analyzed at this year's Cyprus Forum, through foreign policy and diplomacy, opportunities for cooperation emerge, especially at regional level, where Cyprus can play a leading role, being the catalyst for change in our region.
Through his speech at the Cyprus Forum, the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kornilios Korniliou, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulidis, developed the framework of actions and synergies, which is necessary to promote in our region, achieving security and stability.
Specifically, Mr. Korniliou developed, through his intervention, the need to promote the doctrine of Targeted Effective Multilateralism (Effective Minilateralism, as it is widely known), which can, as he argued, offer answers to challenges, provide opportunities to take advantage of prospects, as well as to create conditions of stability and peace in troubled areas such as the Eastern Mediterranean.
“We are faced with a labyrinthine framework of challenges and threats in our immediate periphery, the management of which seems impossible without the consolidation of a culture of cooperation and multilateralism. And it is in this way, as he pointed out, that this crisis creates, at the same time, opportunities for strengthening regional cooperation and consolidating the concept of so-called “regionalism”. He stressed that “for all modern, democratic and prosperous states in the region there is no longer a dilemma: the need to strengthen synergies and institutions aimed at safeguarding the international legal order is becoming more and more imperative and necessary.”
He explained that “we believe that promoting the doctrine of Effective Minilateralism ( as it is widely known) can provide answers to challenges and reduce tensions, provide unique opportunities to take advantage of existing opportunities, as well as create real conditions of stability and peace in troubled regions, such as our neighborhood, the Eastern Mediterranean. “
Eastern Mediterranean: A region with huge prospects
The Foreign Minister then referred to the importance of the Eastern Mediterranean region, noting that “it is an area of enormous economic, commercial, political and energy importance, both for the EU itself and for the entire international system. It was and remains an area with great challenges but also with huge prospects “.
In this context, he explained, Cyprus, faithful to the requirements of multilateralism and with a perfectly synchronized pace with Greece, promoted the establishment of Tripartite Cooperation Mechanisms in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Korniliou also said that he believes that there will be other developments, bilateral or multilateral in the near future, as well as – and this has its own special importance – we see the strengthening of relevant regional cooperation both by the private sector, University Institutions and other non-governmental actors, who use the developing state collaborations as infrastructure, as a basis, as a driving force.
Cyprus must have an extroverted foreign policy
Regarding the role of Cyprus in particular, he argued that “a small state like Cyprus, with a continuing problem of invasion and illegal occupation of its territory by Turkey for more than 46 years, with qualitative rather than quantitative resources and potential, located in a turbulent geographical area, must have an extroverted foreign policy. In times of significant challenges and threats, where traditional multilateralism, international law and international law are called into question, the greatest possible extroversion is required, through regional synergies and an interactive dialogue with our neighbors, looking at our neighbors. ».
He concluded that “Cyprus, both in its region and within the EU, taking advantage of its geographical position, will continue to be a key defender of international legitimacy and international law, promoting multilateralism and regional cooperation, intercultural understanding and common vision for a better quality of life for the peoples of the region, as key priorities of its foreign policy “.
Interesting aspects of diplomacy and foreign policy then put under the microscope of eminent persons, the o what through their intervention in the debate, presented the challenges posed to the region, and the opportunities arising for Cyprus to develop a leading role .
The panel discussion was attended by former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoullis , Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council , Elizabeth Prodromou, Visiting Associate Professor at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University and Asli Council on Foreign Relations , while the coordinating role was played by Anna Koukkidi Prokopiou, Senior Associate at the Cyprus Center of European and International Affairs, University of Nicosia
Development of innovative initiatives in global existential issues
First, Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou stated that Cyprus is at a key point, where it can play a leading role in the region. He explained that “we are in a period due to covid-19, where a new dialogue has begun, and where the need for international solidarity, human solidarity and moving from the local to the global level is recognized.
In addition, it is a time when the importance of small states and different actors in resolving existential issues, such as climate change, public health and the proliferation of weapons, is recognized.
Therefore, in this context, as Dr. Prodromou argued, Cyprus can develop initiatives. In particular in the field of climate change, as he mentioned, Cyprus can work in an innovative way in the field of sustainable development, both at the public level and at the level of the private sector. In addition, the contribution of Cyprus can be significant both in the field of public health, through the development of scientific innovations, and in the field of combating the proliferation of weapons – in which the geographical position of Cyprus, as a crossroads of three continents, plays an important role. taking initiatives and developing a new regulatory framework.
Promotion of Cultural Diplomacy and Mild Power
Then the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erato Kozakou Markoullis, developed the importance of cultural diplomacy in the context of foreign policy, which she used, as she characteristically stated “as a very important tool in her career, both as a diplomat and as Minister of Foreign Affairs”. He argued that Cyprus may be a small state, but in terms of history and archeology it is an important force “, which he has observed in all the international symposia and forums he has participated in and touch on these objects. “On the other hand, the region of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, where Cyprus belongs, is an amalgam of cultures and home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. Therefore, I always felt that we must use this wealth in our foreign policy, but also to develop a vision of peace and stability and sustainable development in this region of the world “, Ms. Markoulli then pointed out.
He added that “Cyprus is a multicultural island, with the presence of many peoples and cultures in our country. It is therefore in a unique position to support and promote initiatives, bringing people together, including writers, artists, researchers, writers, to build bridges of communication and understanding. ” He concluded by emphasizing that governments should use less hard power and more mild power, which promotes peace and understanding in the world.
Importance of multilateralism in the field of Security
Dr. Damon Wilson, for his part, analyzed the importance of cooperation and multilateralism in the field of security. He praised the way the Republic of Cyprus and especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs perceives and treats the region as an area of highlighting opportunities and not challenges, bringing solutions and ideas to the table for discussion. He even characterized as innovative the idea of “minilateralism”, ie the combination of multilateralism with periphery, while he also argued that it is the right time to create a regional cooperation organization in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Dr. Wilson also said that the Eastern Mediterranean region has become an area of geostrategic competition, and we have entered a new phase, with the involvement of foreign powers such as Russia and China, at a time when challenges are being created for the people of the region. around issues such as arms proliferation, illegal migration flows and energy issues.
Despite the tensions and challenges, he argued that opportunities are emerging at the same time. He made special reference to the development of Greek-American relations at a high level, with special reference to the East Med Act bill and security cooperation. “There is interest in developing democratic cooperation in the region on the part of the United States, while there is also a focus on maintaining Turkey as an ally of the West,” said Dr. Wilson.
He concluded that the multilateralism could address common challenges such as counterterrorism laws, immigration and the illegal slave trade in the region, stressing that “the elements of a regional organization based in Cyprus could contribute to future stability in the region”.
A new functional relationship between the EU and Turkey
Ms Asli Aydıntaşbaş finally developed EU-Turkey relations through her intervention and supported the need for a new form of relationship between the two sides, which she said would contribute to stability in the region. “I would be lying to you if I said that Ankara is currently interested in joining the EU. Instead, there is a spate of nationalism and a doctrine that defines Turkey's security interests through its military presence. in areas such as Libya, Syria, etc. “, he initially stated. He then gave special importance to the dangerous “syndrome” of the sense of marginalization that Turkey feels, that is, to the sense that there are a number of hostile states against it in the region. He argued that we need to address this collectively and create ways of productive engagement between the EU and Turkey. “We need to create a creative and functional relationship between the two sides, because as it exists now, the communication channels do not work, which in the long run is not beneficial for anyone's interests. “What would bring more stability to the region is a wın-win formula,” said the Senior Associate at the European Council on Foreign Relations.