WE TAKE no pleasure in saying this but the comments by foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides about Cyprus’ relations with the US, made in the wake of President Anastasiades’ Russia trip, were indicative of the superficial and impetuous way in which foreign policy is conducted. Speaking after meeting the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Kasoulides said that the US, “our strategic partner,” had no right to complain about the Russia trip, because it had not backed Cyprus when Turkey had violated its EEZ.
“If the US had taken a firm stance with regard to the violation of our EEZ, then in fairness they might have had the right to complain but under the circumstances, they do not,” he told CyBC radio. The implication was that Anastasiades’ official visit to Russia, made at a time when the West had tried to isolate President Putin over the Ukraine, was in retaliation to the US failure to censure Turkey for its incursions in the Cypriot EEZ. The Cyprus government believed it had punished the West, with the visit, for letting it down, but the truth is that it gained nothing – neither Putin nor the Russian government took a firm stance against Turkey’s violations.
As for the argument used by Kasoulides, about the West’s alleged double standards it was rather weak. Comparing Russia’s actions in the Ukraine – annexing Crimea and arming Russian rebels who have laid the eastern Ukraine to waste, causing thousands of deaths and forcing over a million people to flee their homes – with Turkey’s violations of the Cypriot EEZ and feeling aggrieved because sanctions were not imposed on Turkey has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Turkey was in the wrong, but did Kasoulides actually believe that its actions in the EEZ were remotely comparable with those of Russia in the Ukraine, and therefore meriting a similar punishment?
Anastasiades, on his election, said that he would position Cyprus in the West, where it belonged – he would apply for entry to the Partnership for Peace and seek membership of NATO. Things looked to be going well, with the US describing Cyprus as a “strategic partner” and Vice President Joe Biden visiting Cyprus last year. But on encountering a small difficulty in his government’s relationship with the West, Anastasiades immediately forgot his foreign policy target and fell into the arms of Putin, in the name of the idiotic, multi-dimensional foreign policy, advocated by the West-hating Akel.
This underlined the naive way in which the Cyprus conducts its foreign policy. It appears nobody in the government – not even our foreign minister – has understood that the world is once again dividing into two spheres of influence and each state would have to choose between the two. AKEL’s multi-dimensional foreign policy, in effect means an alignment with Russia because the US and the EU will consider a state allied to Putin’s Russia a foe rather than an ally.
It is frightening that nobody in the Anastasiades government can see this.