For­eign pol­icy: our Achilles’ heel

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The for­eign min­is­ters of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece de­clared, on the side­lines of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly, their “com­mit­ment to work closely and strengthen their co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas of mu­tual ben­e­fit.”

It may have sounded quite bom­bas­tic for the lo­cal me­dia and politi­cians, but the crux of the mat­ter is very sim­ple: did we achieve any­thing of essence from such a tri­lat­eral meet­ing?

Re­gional is­sues of pri­mary con­cern are the events in Pales­tine, Syria, Iraq and Libya and the threat of ter­ror that looms over them. But what is re­ally needed is co­op­er­a­tion on a prac­ti­cal level.

Greece has stated that it needs as much help as pos­si­ble to tackle the prob­lem of il­le­gal mi­grants and the in­crease of boat peo­ple, an is­sue that may earn more at­ten­tion now that Demetris Avramopou­los is headed to be the new EU Com­mis­sioner in charge.

On the other hand, Cyprus needs to find friends de­ter­mined to de­fend it within the Ara­bian and Is­lamic sphere of in­flu­ence, some­thing our gov­ern­ment clearly lacks, es­pe­cially with the mighty Turkey push­ing on with its own agenda to win over al­lies.

And Egypt seeks the po­lit­i­cal le­git­i­macy it lost to­wards the end of the Mubarak rule and the start of the Arab Spring, lead­ing to the ris­ing dan­ger from the Is­lamic Brother­hood on its own soil and Is­lamic State on its doorstep, a chain of events in which the EU was clearly ab­sent.

Un­doubt­edly, what con­nects all three states is en­ergy, the dis­cov­ery of new re­sources and fu­ture sup­ply con­tracts to en­sure a sense of sta­bil­ity, both eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal.

But Cyprus ought to learn from the mis­takes of the past and take a more ac­tive role in re­gional af­fairs.

The ar­rival of the 345 boat peo­ple re­in­forces this mes­sage that Cyprus, too, needs to deal with the grow­ing prob­lem of mi­grants – some­thing that will not go away and we will prob­a­bly see more of in the near fu­ture.

In a timely com­ment writ­ten by the ruler of Dubai and Vice Pres­i­dent of the UAE (see back page), Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum ar­gues that “sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity are stronger and more en­dur­ing than op­por­tunis­tic and de­struc­tive ideas” adding that “to de­feat ISIS, we must ac­knowl­edge that we can­not ex­tin­guish the fires of fa­nati­cism by force alone.”

Though Cyprus may not have the mil­i­tary might of the north­ern oc­cu­pier, it has the ad­van­tage of be­ing in the right place and at the right time. All we have to do is to be and seem to be more ac­tive in or­der to win over doubt­ing Thomases, ei­ther lo­cally, re­gion­ally or even within our “friends” in Europe.

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