France, Cyprus and the east­ern Mediter­ranean

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The ge­o­graphic po­si­tion of Cyprus in the east­ern Mediter­rranean and the his­toric pres­ence of France in the re­gion high­light its geopo­lit­i­cal im­por­tance for the two coun­tries. His­tor­i­cally, the ge­o­graphic po­si­tion of Cyprus was the cause of many for­eign oc­cu­pants. For France the East­ern Mediter­ranean is a zone of in­flu­ence, as we can gather from its man­date of Syria and Le­banon , after the fall of the Ot­toman Em­pire, the dis­sem­i­na­tion of the French lan­guage, the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tions and its mil­i­tary and naval pres­ence in the re­gion. The ac­tive diplo­matic, cul­tural, sci­en­tific and ed­u­ca­tional pres­ence of France in the East­ern Mediter­ranean is more­over proved by the fact that 50% of the ques­tions ad­dressed to the Quai D’Or­say in Paris con­cern the re­gion. It is there­fore only nat­u­ral that Cyprus has be­come France’s cen­tral ob­ser­va­tion post in the re­gion. In this con­nec­tion it is worth men­tion­ing that the most im­por­tant bureau of the Agence France Press abroad, with more than a hun­dred per­son­nel, is sit­u­ated in Cyprus .

Cyprus is the strate­gic part­ner of France in the re­gion, the “ally” as stated by Min­is­ters of Pres­i­dent’s Macron gov­ern­ment. Cyprus en­joys the full sup­port of France in the United Na­tions and the Euro­pean Union. It is France’s firm be­lief that the five per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Council as well as the Euro­pean Union have a use­ful role to play in the search for the Cyprus prob­lem. France is the only West­ern Euro­pean coun­try which sup­plied mil­i­tary equip­ment to Cyprus, de­spite the sale of arms em­bargo and has al­ways honoured its al­lied re­la­tions with Cyprus. An­other di­men­sion of the good bi­lat­eral re­la­tions is the pres­ence of French com­pany To­tal in Cyprus’ Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone for the ex­trac­tion of hy­dro­car­bons. For its part Cyprus is the cred­i­ble part­ner who wel­comes France’s na­tional marine in its ports, co­op­er­ates with France against ter­ror­ism and de­vel­ops com­mon ap­proaches within the frame­work of the Euro­pean Union and the Euro zone

The mere ref­er­ence to the east­ern Mediter­ranean au­to­mat­i­cally in­tro­duces the ques­tion of se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion, where the Syr­ian cri­sis and the hege­monic am­bi­tions of Turkey have cre­ated an ex­plo­sive sit­u­a­tion. The po­si­tion of France on both is­sues is of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance to Cyprus

The present sit­u­a­tion in Syria is un­ac­cept­able to France and can­not con­tinue, be­cause its hu­man­i­tar­ian, diplo­matic, se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity di­men­sions have in­ter­na­tional reper­cus­sions. This is wit­nessed by the fight against ter­ror­ism, the mil­lions of refugees which in­un­dated Turkey, Le­banon, Jor­dan and Europe, the as­pi­ra­tions of the Kurds to have their own state and the in­volve­ment of the Great Pow­ers in the cri­sis.

France par­tic­i­pates in the in­ter­na­tional coali­tion against the Is­lamic state, but she is not at war with Syria. Her pri­or­ity is an orderly, well organised and agreed po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion , which pre­sup­poses a tran­si­tional pe­riod in ac­cor­dance with UN Se­cu­rity Council Res­o­lu­tion 2254 of De­cem­ber 2015 . In this con­nec­tion the de­par­ture of Pres­i­dent As­sad is not a pre con­di­tion for France. France rec­og­nizes the need to es­tab­lish a sta­ble and cred­i­ble state in Syria within its present fron­tiers , which will al­low the pro­gres­sive re­turn of the refugees to their homes , as­sure the pro­tec­tion of mi­nori­ties , es­pe­cially of the Chris­tians , and en­cour­age the rein­te­gra­tion of the “the gen­er­a­tion of chaos” into so­ci­ety .

As far as Turkey is con­cerned, France recog­nises the present re­al­i­ties. In ac­tual fact, to­day’s Turkey as­pires to en­ter into di­a­logue with the EU, the United States, Rus­sia and oth­ers as equal to equal. Her am­bi­tion to be­come an in­ter­na­tional player nour­ished by her eco­nomic prow­ess and her mem­ber­ship of the G20. Europe is in­ter­ested to see a Turkey of sta­bil­ity and democ­racy. It is for this rea­son that France in­sists on the pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights and a di­a­logue with Turkey, with­out con­ces­sions, de­spite the need to pre­serve the EU- Turkey agree­ment on the mi­grants.

It is within this en­vi­ron­ment of in­sta­bil­ity in the east­ern Mediter­ranean that the re­la­tions be­tween Cyprus and France ac­quire par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance. Cyprus can in­deed play a piv­otal role of sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

The goal, there­fore, of the French for­eign pol­icy is to main­tain it. The visit of Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades to France, on the in­vi­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent Macron aims, at this mo­ment, at strength­en­ing the France- Cyprus bi­lat­eral re­la­tions which within the frame­work of the ex­ist­ing con­struc­tive co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries will cer­tainly ben­e­fit our two peo­ples.

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