Cyprus needs an EEZ Navy (rpt)

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The fol­low­ing Ed­i­to­rial was pub­lished on De­cem­ber 11, 2013, when Turkey was pro­vok­ing Cyprus for the umpteenth time and the western al­lies and fel­low EU mem­ber states stood idle, just as they did last week with the re­cent provo­ca­tions in the Cyprus EEZ. In the mean­time, vis­it­ing US Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den made grandiose state­ments and gave hopes of re­vised in­ter­est by Wash­ing­ton, but stepped back when Ankara got angry, while prom­ises of Is­raeli pa­trol boats have yet to ma­te­ri­alise. The gov­ern­ment was right to de­cide to walk out of the peace talks. We stand by the same Ed­i­to­rial, re­peated as-is:

The re­cent provo­ca­tion by the Turk­ish re­search ves­sel Bar­barosa off the south-western coast of Cyprus has shown, once again, how vul­ner­a­ble our navy-less is­land is, while our “friends” in the EU do not dare raise a fin­ger to scold Ankara for its ac­tions. With Cather­ine Ash­ton as for­eign re­la­tions supremo, we do not ex­pect any­thing else from Brussels. After all, her agenda is to look after for­eign re­la­tions of the few and not the whole of the EU28.

Which brings us back to the con­clu­sion that, once again, we are on our own, just as the ‘Euro­pean sol­i­dar­ity’ kicked in be­fore and after the fum­bled Eurogroup meet­ing in March.

On the is­sue of de­fend­ing the sov­er­eign rights of Cyprus and the Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone where our fu­ture rev­enue re­sources lie, per­haps it’s time that we started talk­ing the same lan­guage as Turkey. Although we can­not match their west­spon­sored mil­i­tary might, we could, how­ever, make some tac­ti­cal moves that would oblige our EU part­ners and the Athens pres­i­dency from Jan­uary 1 to take ‘af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion’.

Greece and Bri­tain cut back on their navy pa­trols of pi­rate-in­fested seas off the Horn of Africa last year due to bud­getary con­straints, with one es­ti­mate of main­tain­ing a Greek Navy war­ship in the area put at about 5 mln euros a month.

Con­sid­er­ing the need to have some say in what goes on in our EEZ, and within the spirit of pri­vatis­ing pub­lic ser­vices, the Cyprus gov­ern­ment should con­sider out­sourc­ing pa­trols of our off­shore po­ten­tial gas­fields to the Hel­lenic Navy and un­der­tak­ing the an­nual cost of 60 mln euros to have our own fully-manned frigate in the area.

The last time that we tried to show some mus­cle was when the late Glaf­cos Clerides de­vised a cun­ning plan to bring the S300 sys­tem to de­fend the is­land’s air space against provo­ca­tions by the Turk­ish air force.

At the time, the for­mer pres­i­dent said in an in­ter­view re­cently, Greece told him to back down, hence the mis­siles ended up on Crete.

The only risk here is that now that we claim to be part of the ‘Euro­pean fam­ily’, our part­ners would have to take sides and we know that the al­leged de­fend­ers of democ­racy and hu­man rights in Europe would go with Turkey. But, at least, we can seem to be de­fend­ing our sov­er­eign rights and it would also be an op­por­tu­nity to ask our re­cent­ly­found friends in Is­rael, who also have a vested in­ter­est in de­fend­ing gas­fields in the East Med, to de­cide: “Are you with us or against us?”

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