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Monday, September 25, 2023

“The Ukrainian with extensions in Cyprus” by Kyriakos Pieridis

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The Cypriot government is attempting to adjust to the geopolitical shifts caused by the war in Ukraine. The effort is not easy at all. By general order of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I. Kasoulidis, the diplomatic service follows the line of “full alignment” with the EU in the implementation of sanctions. At the same time, government officials, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs K. Petridis, realizing the magnitude of the stake, are trying to cover the difficulty, but also the lack of credibility at the leadership level that has long haunted its “special” relations with Moscow. In Thursday's meeting with political leaders, N. Anastasiadis referred to the “dilemma” faced by Nicosia due to “long-standing relations with Russia” and reluctantly admitted (3/3): “if we broke the cohesion observed in its area We would be in the crosshairs of the EU. “

The adjustment of the government is facilitated by the presence of Kasoulidis, who has a good witness from outside in the European capitals and Washington. The Foreign Minister took initiatives and handled the controversial issues in a low tone, directing the Cypriot diplomacy. This is not easy either, as Cypriot diplomats often take an inelastic approach. If they do not get clear political instructions, they lose the big picture.

Strategy or tactics?

Obviously the new situation does not require management in terms of tactics. The dilemma is strategic: will Cyprus be on the right side of history or will it read the Ukrainian with its usual narrow perspective? Until now, the political leadership felt it had the luxury of many choices on the international stage. The Cypriot President at every opportunity… gave credentials to the Kremlin, played games with the Cyprus issue and demanded that Russia participate on equal terms with Europe in the Cypriot conferences.

Still, Nicosia has always tended to create in the public mind imaginary images of Russian political principles. Even if Moscow abandoned it a few years ago. Especially when in 2018 thousands of “shell” companies closed, most of them Russian interests, and withdrew most of their deposits, after a European directive was recently implemented not to hide real shareholders of companies, as was done years ago and revealed with the “Pandora Papers”. The unreliability of Cyprus and the suspicion of Europe are not accidental. Behind the pro-Russian mask in Cyprus one finds politicians with a surplus of populism, and at the same time entanglement with financial interests and transactions. Can Cyprus continue the same?

Catastrophic failure

Since Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, Nicosia has been able to design its own European strategy, shifting its focus there. However, he did not do so because he wanted to have an alibi when he appears in Brussels to pursue “a la carte” politics. During the days of Anastasiadis, this attitude took on the well-known dimensions: it put the Cyprus issue on the shelf from Crans Montana and then, it started the policy of the tripartites and EastMed. When Turkey reacted to the EEZ, Nicosia turned the EU into a stadium for πολι denunciation politicians. What did N. Anastasiadis achieve? As he “explained” to the political leaders (Phileleftheros, 4/3), the problem with the sanctions was that while Nicosia proves the violation of the resolutions on Varosi and the violation of the sovereign rights at sea, “the Europeans did not want to hear and a reference to the conclusions on Famagusta was hardly made. “

Anastasiadis's European policy and the manipulations he made on the Cyprus issue are not unrelated to the policy he pursued inside Cyprus. The criterion was to exploit and suck, rather than take advantage of the EU framework. The 7,000 “golden” passports in the period 2013-2021 are the most extreme version of this mentality, orchestrated, in fact, by the head of government. Until the eve of the Russian invasion, N. Anastasiadis did not hesitate to pass with an “apology” his practice of selling “golden” passports. How many are Russian oligarchs and how many clients of his daughters' office? It is very likely that this case, which is pending before the EU Court, will take on new dimensions at the expense of the Ukrainian.

Cyprus will have to make a great effort to gain the position of a reliable European partner. With the cover of the Cypriot President, the former Foreign Minister N. Christodoulidis from 2018 did not hesitate to appear in the Councils of Ministers giving lectures on what is good and what is not in the other Member States for Turkey, instead of trying to find a common language together to advance the settlement of the Cyprus issue. He went so far as to point out the veto on sanctions against Belarus. He was never convinced of the policy of sanctions because many are aware of the responsibilities of Anastasiadis-Christodoulidis in Crans Montana and beyond. That is why N. Christodoulidis did not have real interlocutors in the EU, he just caused disgust to his counterparts. How would they treat him now that every word counts?

What is Turkey doing?

Cypriot public opinion is watching with horror the Russian invasion with almost identical features to '74. Many associate and wonder why sanctions are not applied to Turkey as well. However, Turkey feels that it has come a long way in the Cyprus issue and thus exercises its diplomacy. In Ukraine, it cooperates with the West, even if it does not impose sanctions yet, because – obviously – it wants to play a mediating role.

Most analyzes in Nicosia of where Turkey is going are far from sober. But under the weight of the Ukrainian, events in the EU are moving at an even greater speed and these will be associated with the need for stabilization in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israeli President Isaac Herzog understands this better than Nicosia, who paid a visit to Nicosia – he will also go to Athens – before going to Turkey to normalize his country's relations with Ankara. Herzog listened to the usual protests of the Cypriot President, who in fact wanted to publicly deceive again with the EastMed pipeline. Herzog's response was discreet (2/3): “The tragedy in Ukraine is a reminder of the need for everyone to work together to protect the authorities and, consequently, our interests. This will be the message I will give to Turkey during my visit there, since I believe in the cooperation of all peoples… “.

Diplomatic gears

Many realize that the crisis will take a long time for Europe to find security and cooperation again. Putin tried to repeat the large-scale annexation of Crimea & # 8211; all over Ukraine. The Americans reacted and the EU member states came out united. Germany is fully reviewing its energy policy and stepping up its defense spending. Together with France, they will work together to strengthen the EU's common foreign and defense policy. Russia at the expense of the EU and the need of the Europeans for a resilient European security and defense are a reason for Cyprus to reconsider its strategy within the EU, to bring the resolution of the Cyprus issue to the fore again. By staying on the Ukrainian side, Turkey can try to progressively reconnect with the West, the US and the EU. The Americans are willing and parallel moves on many levels are not ruled out. Similar moves were preceded by Israel and Turkey. The new data may reopen the gears for the Cyprus issue, which remained a thorn in the eastern Mediterranean.

The article is republished in the Athenian Journal of Authors

Source: politis.com.cy

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