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Our View: Absurd argument for giving Russia military facilities

President Anastasiades visiting a Russian carrier that docked in Limassol port in March 2014

AFTER the Alliance of Citizens and EDEK, Simerini newspaper has taken up the cause of granting military facilities to the Russian Federation. While the Alliance has supported this course through announcements and public statements by its leader, EDEK had come up with the novel idea of posting a question about the issue on its website in order to make a more compelling case. A little over a thousand people responded and 90 per cent said ‘yes’ to military facilities, which did not exactly strengthen the party’s case, given that the website’s visitors were not representative of the population.

Even if it were a representative sample, as the Simerini poll supposedly was, what serious state conducts its foreign policy and alliance choices by public demand? And why stop at this only. Why should we not decide economic policy as well by conducting opinion polls to establish what the people want? If it leads to bankruptcy it does not matter because the wishes of the people were followed. This is the level of the absurdity behind EDEK’s and Simerini’s argument that military facilities should be offered to Russia because this was what people, supposedly, wanted.

The poll published in Sunday’s Simerini found that 73 per cent of respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question, “should the Cyprus Republic offer military facilities to the Russian Federation, within the framework of the operations it is conducting against terrorism?” This is the problem with polls on such complex issues? “Military facilities” could mean any number of things, but people are supposed to have an informed opinion without knowing anything about these facilities. Interestingly, only 37 per cent of respondents agreed to giving Russia a military base, so if the “military facilities” involved giving a base, 63 per cent would have been opposed to it, according to this poll.

Other interesting things we learnt from the poll was that 66 per cent would feel more secure if there was a Russian military presence, 55per cent wanted closer links with Russia, while 81 per cent felt it would to Cyprus’ advantage if Russian companies were involved in Cyprus’ EEZ. It is not surprising that this poll appeared a week after Russia’s ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy, who regularly meddles in our domestic affairs, told Simerini in an interview that Nicosia had to offer Moscow military facilities.

He said: “At this moment there is no talk about the use of Cyprus by our military as a base so as to strike blows against the positions of the Islamist terrorists. The need for such a type of Russo-Cypriot co-operation would be determined in common, exclusively and only after the submission of such requests by the Cyprus authorities.”

And as the Cyprus government has not submitted such a request Osadchiy seems to be using the media and the parties, in the hope they could pressure it into doing so. But the parties and media need to come up with a stronger argument than claiming this was what the public wanted.

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