Geopolitical strategy needs a rethink
E DII TO RII A L
President Nicos Anastasiades’ health situation could not have come at a worse time; although unavoidable, perhaps the brief period ahead of us will allow for the dust to settle from many ongoing geopolitical issues.
Turkey, that the naïve few in Cyprus believe will be punished for being the ‘bad boy’ for roaming capriciously in the eastern Mediterranean, is once again becoming the darling of the west and does not seem to be fazed from the reaction to its support of the Islamic State terror group. Joe Biden had only the nicest of things to say, as will David Cameron when he visits Ankara next week. Even Vladimir Putin has decided to throw a spanner in the works of the western allies by loading Turkey with gifts in the form of increased natural gas supply and a 6% discount “for the time being” on the price. We would expect nothing less as Moscow wants to divert its gas supplies away from the EU after the sanctions and bilateral trade between Turkey and Russia is in the region of 100 bln dollars.
And what can Cyprus offer to Russia (or the U.S. or the U.K. at that) apart from our approval of sanctions and paltry services sector? Nothing, really. Putin has made sure that the new de- offshorisation rules will allow him to have a stronger grip on Russian-owned interests on the island, diminishing Cyprus’ i mportance as a financial services jurisdiction. Even the island’s accountants have admitted that the volume of Russian business that could be affected by the new regulations of being taxed at home, as well as on this island, is “minimal”, which means that the real Russian offshore activity is elsewhere.
Cyprus has no navy or air force, thus nothing more than an observer in regional affairs, while the trilateral agreements with Greece and Egypt ( and soon Israel) offer some hope of a regional promotion in the eyes of our neighbours.
On the other hand, Anastasiades will have been away for most of December, so by the time he is back the whole Barbaros affair would have resolved itself. During this month, we should also be hearing the good or bad news about the fate of troubled national carrier Cyprus Airways.
What is expected of Anastasiades is to recuperate as soon as possible and finally take charge of running the country, as so far he has been pandering to the ruling party and trade unions. Now that the economy is on a track of recovery (or so the president’s advisers claim), he should get back to his old good self of being aggressive and demanding on all issues, from local governance to regional geopolitics.