By Dr Andrestinos Papadopoulos
WE HAVE to go back to the 13th century BC to find the first evidence of brotherly relations between Cyprus and Egypt, when the then Pharaoh, according to the El Amarna archives, sent a letter to the Cypriot king addressing him as his brother. These warm relations have continued down the centuries, progressively covering other Arab countries. In more recent years, Makarios and Nasser became leading figures of the Non-Aligned Movement and symbols of a genuine and traditional friendship.
It is within this framework, therefore, that we should place the invitation to President Anastasiades by the Egyptian government to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The invitation as such, addressed to a limited number of countries, was an indication of the upgraded relations between Cyprus and Egypt and a mark of honour towards President Anastasiades since he is the first European head of state to visit Egypt following last June’s change of government. This underlines the role Cyprus is expected to play in the eastern Mediterranean, not only as a link between the European Union and the Arab world, but also as a key player in the energy field in the wake of a new geostrategic environment.
The recent visit of US vice president Joe Biden testifies to this new reality and confirms the will to create conditions which will allow the cooperation between Cyprus, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon not only on energy matters, but also on matters of general security and stability in the region. Already, similar cooperation has been agreed between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.
The landslide election of President Al-Sisi shows the confidence and trust the Egyptian people have in him and marks the beginning of a new era characterised by optimism and national pride. This will allow President Al-Sisi to regain for Egypt its leading role within the Arab world in general and the eastern Mediterranean, in particular. The invitation, therefore, to President Anastasiades from a strong Egypt strengthens his hand diplomatically in relations between Cyprus and other Arab states, the leaders of which he had the opportunity to meet in Cairo and exchange views with them. Moreover, by this preferential treatment of President Anastasiades, a strong message is being sent to Turkey, which supported the overthrown President Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Cyprus has gained a lot from the visit of President Anastasiades to Egypt, as new horizons are opened for action, not only in the region, but within the framework of the European Union as well.
Dr Andrestinos Papadopoulos is a former ambassador of the republic