Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Grab the opportunity while it lasts

Incirlik Air Base,Turkey,

By Christos P Panayiotides

‘THE ECONOMIST reported the following on July 19 in its daily summary of important international events: “Recep Tayip Erdogan … may find America’s patience has worn thin.  There is growing talk in Congress of finding an alternative to Incirlik”, the military base out of which the American-led war against Islamic State is largely conducted.

This may be a rare opportunity for Cyprus, which should be taken advantage of. In physical and practical terms, Cyprus is at least as well equipped as any other location to serve as a base for regional military operations.

The Cyprus government should grab this opportunity and offer the Americans all the facilities they need in the region.  It should do so on an on-going and permanent basis.

The time has come for Cyprus to abandon its aspirations to become a ‘world power’ that can influence international political and economic developments, or even serve as ‘a balancing force’ in the never-ending race amongst the big powers of this world.

Such a move to be successful needs to be supported by all the political parties in Cyprus, including AKEL, and should have only one condition attached to it – reunification.

Under such an arrangement, Cyprus would undertake to consistently adopt and support US and EU policies in all international affairs, with only one condition, namely that this cooperation and support will be withdrawn if the policies pursued by our allies directly threaten vital Greek interests.

A very similar deal was struck shortly after WWII between the Anglo-Americans on the one hand and Israel – under formation at the time – on the other.

This arrangement, which has been consistently honoured, has served the interests of both sides and has proven to be surprisingly robust for a very simple reason: the fundamentals, which originally prompted the parties to enter into this arrangement, have remained valid throughout this period.  This is the new equilibrium Cyprus should aim at, abandoning all other options, which have been occasionally pursued in the past, in a somewhat amateurish fashion, in exchange for a rhetoric of zero practical value.

Adopting such an attitude and approach will inevitably entail the abandoning of the idea that Cyprus is the centre of the world. It will also entail the abandoning of the misconception cultivated by Cypriot politicians that a body of enforceable international rules exists, by reference to which the behaviour of individual countries is formulated and judged, even when self-interest dictates otherwise.

It is not inconceivable that a sizeable proportion of Cypriots may find it impossible to abandon this fallacy.  These same people will probably find it difficult to digest the idea that nations act within the scope of their own self-interest despite the lip-service they pay to moral principles that must be adhered to.

It goes without saying that such arrangements need to be made very quietly, in exactly the same fashion that the agreements between Israel and the Anglo-Americans were struck some 70 years ago.  At the time, the British had to appear to be against the idea of Jews settling in Palestine.  They even set up a camp near the port of Famagusta, where prospective settlers were confined for a while prior to being assisted to move on to their ultimate destination.

This is the kind of smart thinking Cyprus is in urgent need of.


Christos P. Panayiotides is a Certified Public Accountant




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