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Our View: Cyprus has looked more to the East than West during Anastasiades’ term

President Anastasiades and Russia's President Putin

DURING the campaign for the 2013 presidential elections, one of the promises made by Nicos Anastasiades was that if he won, Cyprus would apply to join Partnership for Peace (PfP). We have heard nothing about the application in the last five years and the subject has not received a mention in the current campaign. This is rather strange considering in February 2011 the House of Representatives adopted a resolution that Cyprus should seek membership of the programme.

There was no way a West-hating communist like Demetris Christofias, who was president at the time, would have applied to join. He and his Akel comrades regularly dismissed PfP as the ‘waiting-room’ for Nato membership, which they were fanatically opposed to. Other parties however, such as Edek and Diko, currently supporting the candidacy of Nicolas Papadopoulos, joined forces with Disy in backing the resolution in 2011, but appear to have lost their interest now.

Then again, Anastasiades was also an avid supporter of joining PfP, also bringing up the possibility of Nato membership, although he made this conditional on the agreement of all the political parties. This was never going to happen if Akel’s consent was necessary and Anastasiades, who is no fool, knew this, but still liked to pretend that he wanted Cyprus to join the West’s grouping of countries. Cyprus was already a member of the EU and the next step, in theory, would be to join PfP before becoming a member of Nato.

As a result, Cyprus is the only EU member-state that is neither a member of Nato nor the PfP programme. Almost all countries of the Warsaw Pact, like Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and even Albania among other are now Nato members, but Cyprus appears to have decided to stay out. Christofias, disingenuously, claimed joining PfP would undermine efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and demilitarise the island. The Cyprus problem was an excuse for not joining PfP, although it is very likely that without a settlement, Turkey, one of Nato’s oldest members, would veto any application for membership of Nato by the Republic.

Another explanation for the loss of interest in joining PfP and Nato at a later stage could be the fear of displeasing Russia, with which relations have tightened during the Anastasiades presidency. Cyprus often acts like the defender of Russia in Brussels and more than once took a stand against the imposition of sanctions by the EU. Only last month, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides declared that Cyprus would work for the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia.

How funny that before his election, Anastasiades pledged to move Cyprus to the West, where it belonged, but by the end of his term, the country has moved further to the Russian East than it had been under the West-hating Christofias.

 

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