By Loucas Charalambous
BELOW is an excerpt from an interview given by foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides to Politis last Sunday.
Question: Would it be considered irrational or militarisation if a Greek ship was in (Cyprus’) EEZ for symbolic reasons?
Kasoulides: I’d better not answer about the Greek ship. Why do we not have at our disposal ships of the Cyprus navy would engage in manoeuvres of course, not naval battles? Had the Anastasiades government not asked for the purchase of two vessels from Israel? And we blocked the purchase ourselves.
Q: The ruling party Disy voiced objections.
K: I am speaking on behalf of the government.
Q: Do you consider that we should have secured the capability for a presence in the EEZ?
K: I, as foreign minister, who should have calmed things down, was one of those that were in favour of the purchase of the two ships. I expressed this view at the Council of Ministers meeting which was being chaired by (House President) Mr Omirou. I voiced the same view at meetings held about this matter. I do not accept the argument that if we send two ships they (Turks) would bring 50. Would either of us open fire?
Q: Nobody ever knows how things will develop when there is tension.
K: There could be accidents. This happens; I cannot disagree. A presence in the EEZ, in my opinion, is an imperative.
Credit is due to Kasoulides, for being frank enough to let us know the people that are orchestrating all this nonsense, especially as the matter is back in vogue – so much so, that even DISY chief Averof Neophytou, who had opposed the purchase of the ships, appears to have now defected to the ‘warriors’ camp.
It is good to know who would be called to take responsibility when all this nonsense and the ‘war’ climate they create without any benefit, will destroy our tourism.
I remind that when he was defence minister, Fotis Fotiou stated that the two boats he wanted to buy were frigates that would cost a total of €120 million (and backhanders of about €10 million, I say).
And because two fully-equipped frigates would actually cost closer to €2 billion, I guess that the boats they wanted to buy were small vessels equipped with a couple of guns.
I hope Kasoulides who now wants to create a ‘Cypriot war navy’ with boats that would only engage in manoeuvres (for God’s sake no sea battles) knows the meaning of the words he uses.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “manoeuvre is a movement or series of moves requiring skill and care.” In a military context, it is “a carefully planned scheme or action especially one involving deception. A large-scale military exercise of troops, warships and other forces.”
There is something I would like to know. Given that Kasoulides takes for granted that the boats of the ‘Cyprus war navy’ would not open fire or become involved in a naval battle, how would they protect the EEZ? And as we would have them only for manoeuvres, why waste €120 million or more on them? And where would we find the money to pay for them?
And another thing: If I understood well, these two boats will go to the EEZ and while the Turkish ships next to them would be carrying out explorations, they would be carrying out ‘manoeuvres’. I imagine that if the Turks set up a drilling platform, our guys would be waving to them from a distance telling them:
“Good morning neighbours. The Cypriot war navy greets you. You do your job and we will do our manoeuvres. We should just take a little care.
Our minister has said that neither of us should open fire because sometimes there are accidents.”
Why am I writing about this nonsense? It shows the level of the people running this country, not just today, but always.
We did not arrive at partition and bankruptcy by accident. With people of this level governing us we should count ourselves lucky we have not suffered worse things.