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Our View: Lillikas’ superficial analysis is truly astonishing

Giorgos Lillikas supports an amendment to current legislation to be tabled on Friday which will seek to open the market to foreign doctors

“MY LONG-HELD position is that small states, like Cyprus, must be and behave more flexibly and more smartly than the big states. When there are open windows of opportunity we must take advantage of them speedily because the windows of opportunity do not stay open forever. At this time we are living through an acute confrontation of US-Turkey bilateral relations. This rift offers us some new potential and prospects that we did not have in the past, and we should make the most of them immediately.

“I consider a first target we must aim for with the US is that they should stop viewing Cyprus through bilateral relations with Turkey. We must persuade the US to view their relations with Cyprus in a bilateral and direct level and not through refraction via Turkey-US relations.”

This view belongs to the Citizens’ Alliance leader and former foreign minister Giorgos Lillikas and illustrates the superficiality, not to mention opportunism, that marks our politicians’ approach to diplomacy. This is the same Lillikas who regularly made unhelpful statements to the media about the Cyprus talks with the Russian ambassador Stanislas Osadchiy by his side, initiated the passing of a resolution by the legislature supporting an end to sanctions against Russia over the annexation of Crimea and proposed that Russia should be offered military bases on the island. Now he has decided that there is a window of opportunity for Cyprus to cosy up to the US because of strained US-Turkey relations, but stopped short of offering bases to the Americans for now.

The superficiality of Lillikas’ analysis is truly astonishing, but the sad thing is that this lack of rigour is endemic in Cyprus politics. It is our politicians who came up with the nonsensical concept of the multi-dimensional foreign policy, which tried to justify very close ties with Russia at the expense of relations with our EU partners. And now, Lillikas has identified an open window of opportunity in the US, which he and his fellow rejectionists routinely blamed for all Cyprus’ misfortunes and criticised for trying to help settlement efforts.

Putting aside this shabby opportunism, the Alliance leader’s suggestion also reveals a complete lack of touch with reality, in even entertaining the idea that the US would be interested in pursuing a closer alliance with anti-US Cyprus because relations with Turkey, a close ally for decades, were going through a rough patch.

There was a window of opportunity for strengthening relations with the US when former vice president Joe Biden visited Cyprus in 2014 and spoke of a “strategic partnership” which envisaged a settlement of the Cyprus problem and export of eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe via Turkey. That window of opportunity, which Lillikas and his fellow politicians missed or did not want to take advantage of, closed some time ago.

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