Can we keep pace with the changes in geopolitics?
E DII TO RII A L
In other times, when a country would remain steadily dedicated to its policies and strategies, it would be considered a stabilising factor. Cyprus, however, has very often found itself at a standstill, not least now, with the rapidly changing geopolitical situation in our area.
Apart from the occasional success on the diplomatic front or the truly historical agreement signed in Cairo last week that should not be undermined, everything else seems to have simply sunk into a huge bucket of quick-dry cement.
We have our daily dose of scandals and the authorities’ inability to punish these scoundrels, a slow-moving administration that is still planning public sector reform that will probably outpace its present term, and the uncontrolled Turkish provocations within the Cyprus EEZ, which the UN mediator claims Ankara has every right to do so, as long as the Turkish navy does not invade Cyprus territorial waters.
In other words, we are on our own, yet again, and Cypriot politicians are struggling to hang on to anyone who offers us a glimmer of hope of an alliance or defensive agreement, basically so we can tell Turkey to push off!
Unfortunately, though, Turkey will continue to have a major say in all energy-related matters, both today and in the future. This is not a defeatist statement, but one of pragmatism. Which brings us to the next subject of, then, what should our strategy be, if we have one?
The staunchly “pro-Cyprus sovereignty” Russians have left the island’s fortune on the back-burner as they have more important issues to deal with (Ukraine conflict, energy exports) which is why the concern about de-offshorisation that President Putin wants to impose on his rich expats from next January should be addressed immediately, if we ant Cyprus to continue to benefit from Russian businesses.
The European Union and the UK are dealing with imploding issues that could could jeopardise the integrity of the Union, while the Americans are busy watching everybody else and do not want to shoot themselves in the foot, as was the case in Iraq and now Afghanistan.
And if the Arab world is also at a critical juncture, does that leave us with only Israel to turn to? Perhaps. After all, that is why Avigdor Lieberman visited the island last week, basically to tell us “forget the LNG plant, build a pipeline going north or south and solve your political problem, as we need to export our own gas to the rest of the world.”
So, let’s start rebuilding our pre-energy alliances once again, boost sectors where we have a strong presence (shipping, services, etc.) and strengthen our bridges with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon, before history overtakes us, once again, an we find ourselves at a standstill, even ten years from now.