Cyprus im­por­tant again, but for other rea­sons


Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

With the flurry of ac­tiv­ity by VIPs from New World Or­der ri­vals vis­it­ing the is­land, one could not help to think that the Cyprus prob­lem has been re­stored from the ‘bor­ing’ cat­e­gory to one of ‘seem­ing in­ter­est’, in other words raised a notch, as the rat­ing agen­cies would say. How­ever, the stark re­al­ity is that Cyprus once again finds it­self in the eye of the Mid­dle East­ern storm that has been dif­fi­cult to con­tain and for west­ern­ers harder to understand.

True, the is­land is an ob­vi­ous oa­sis of peace in an area that has been plagued by re­volts get­ting out of hand, frail “democ­ra­cies” (as per­ceived by the West) fall­ing apart and the new terror of the Is­lamic State over­tak­ing the evil of Al Qaeda.

The U.S. and its al­lies have made a mess of things in Iraq and now Syria, find­ing it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to re­gain the im­age of peace­maker in the re­gion. The Rus­sians found a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to push through their own ex­pan­sion­ist agenda, dat­ing back to the Tsarist era, while East-West “ally” Tur­key has failed to put a lid on a prob­lem it cre­ated; it sub­se­quently opened its flood­gates to mi­grants and refugees headed to Europe, for which it is be­ing re­warded with a 3 bln euro bonus and re­sump­tion of mem­ber­ship talks.

That leaves the five na­tions of the east­ern Mediter­ranean al­most on their own and in a need to co­op­er­ate closer – Cyprus has no mil­i­tary might, nor does Le­banon, with both strug­gling to get our nat­u­ral gas projects off the ground in or­der to some day boost state rev­enues and start rein­vest­ing in the ‘so­cial fab­ric’ and pub­lic ser­vices (health, ed­u­ca­tion, jobs) that should in turn calm civil dis­con­tent. Jor­dan and Egypt have a some­what sig­nif­i­cant force and, for now, are ca­pa­ble of main­tain­ing their bor­ders, but, too, seem un­pre­pared for the waves of mi­grants-refugees. That leaves Is­rael as the only seem­ingly sane coun­try in the area, but with too many in­ter­nal prob­lems of its own and a re­la­tion­ship with both the U.S. and Tur­key that is odd at times, but un­easy for sure.

Cyprus should grab the op­por­tu­nity of the LavrovKerry vis­its to take a lead­ing role in re­gional diplo­macy, where all other na­tions and their au­thor­i­tar­ian rulers do not trust their neigh­bours. It is now ev­i­dent that Fed­er­ica Mogherini has a plate­ful and on her own is un­able to cope with vast re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of her port­fo­lio, that has ex­ploded in the past 12 months.

Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades and For­eign Min­is­ter Ka­soulides should not wait to be asked how we can help, but must show ini­tia­tive and lead­er­ship and take an ac­tive role in look­ing af­ter Euro­pean in­ter­ests in the area, if our EU part­ners gen­uinely be­lieve in show­ing true sol­i­dar­ity with fel­low mem­ber states. Shut­tle diplo­macy and mon­i­tor­ing the flow of mi­grant-refugees is one crit­i­cal mat­ter where the EU should have a say, as are oth­ers, such as en­ergy se­cu­rity, con­tain­ing large-scale health is­sues, com­bat­ing money laun­der­ing used by terror groups, as well as clamp­ing down on the sale of stolen arte­facts, that not only helps fi­nance th­ese rogue groups’ oper­a­tions, but also de­stroys the her­itage of na­tions and our re­gion in gen­eral.

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