Geopo­lit­i­cal strat­egy needs a re­think


Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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