Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist

Is following Mauritius really a smart move?

Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago and site of a major United States military base

My question is addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus.  I wish to assure you that it is not a rhetorical question. It is a reasonable concern, which stems from the policies followed by the ministry and certain Cypriot politicians, in respect of the British bases located at Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

Cyprus is one of the 22 countries that will position themselves on the dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), concerning the retention by the United Kingdom of its sovereign rights over a group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, when “the Crown” granted independence to Mauritius, one of its ex-coloniesin 1968.  The International Court has been called upon to issue an opinion as to whether the United Kingdom legally retained its sovereign rights over the Chagos islands, when it granted independence to Mauritius.

The handling of the issue has caused discomfort to the British foreign office. The ministry spokesman told the BBC that there has been “disappointment” as a result of the appeal of Mauritius before the ICJ for a bilateral issue, and that it is a move which creates a dangerous precedent for resolving bilateral issues.

The presence of Cyprus at the International Court of Justice, at the highest possible level (through the intervention of the attorney-general of Cyprus), inevitably transmits a hostile message to the United Kingdom, at a critical stage of the Cyprus problem.

When the turkification of northern Cyprus is advancing at a frightening speed and the support of the international community in getting rid of the occupation army is of critical importance, the opening of a new front with a country, which is certain to play an important role in this process, does not appear to be a very smart move.

Could it be that it is, in fact, a smart move and I simply fail to see the logic behind it because I am suffering from political myopia?

I sincerely hope that is the case. Of course, the possibility exists that the intention is to support the United Kingdom against Mauritius and then ask for favours in exchange.


Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist writing in the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia