Foreign policy: our Achilles’ heel
E DII TO RII A L
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.