MOST of Wednesday’s newspapers carried glowing reports about the MED7 gathering in Nicosia. “They sent powerful messages,” read one front-page headline about the declaration of the Southern European Union summit while another announced that “Europe is here,” and a third said there was “Multi-level support from the ‘seven’ of the South.” These views were echoed by Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides speaking about the summit on Wednesday morning.
Perhaps everyone felt they should find something positive to say in relation to Cyprus, even though the summit discussed other matters and the so-called Declaration of Nicosia was made up of platitudes. The declaration, signed by the seven participating countries, offered support for the European companies drilling in the Cypriot EEZ to continue their activities and noted the countries’ support of the Cyprus Republic exercising its sovereign rights. Turkey was also urged to respect Cyprus’ sovereignty and refrain from making threats and actions that violate the Law of the Sea.
Were these powerful messages or platitudes that we have heard on countless occasions in the past from a variety of sources? If anything these messages would be more powerful if they came from an EU summit rather than from the MED7 countries that were bound to show solidarity for one of their members that also happened to be host country. The main recipient of these powerful messages, reported Phileleftheros, was Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and they came at a time when Nicosia was “constantly faced with the provocations and threats of Turkey”.
What are the chances that these provocations and threats will stop as a result of the Declaration of Nicosia or change Turkey’s stance regarding sea explorations in the eastern Mediterranean? There was also reference to the objective of EU energy security, while the MED7 said they would work for the achievement of an energy union. President Anastasiades even secured a mention of the EastMed pipeline in the declaration, which noted the Mediterranean was a strategic energy corridor through which the infrastructure of the EastMed could pass.
The truth is that the Cyprus-related platitudes were a side-issue, the main concern of the summit being immigration which affects most of the EU member states of the south, particularly Greece and Italy. The summit called for effective reform of the asylum system, solidarity in dealing with immigration and shared responsibility by all members-states. Dealing with immigration is the main concern of the MED7 and this was evident at the summit. It was never the energy union, the strategic energy corridor or the sending of powerful messages to Erdogan. We need to keep things in perspective.