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Our View: Our westward lurch reason for Akel’s attack on US embargo bill

What Akel is afraid of is that the bill is another step westwards by Cyprus

Akel general secretary Andros Kyprianou and his party have been attacking the US Senate bill, known as the East Med Act, that would lift the US arms embargo on Cyprus on the grounds that it would lead to the militarisation of the island and create unwanted security problems.

The government through the president and the spokesman responded to this by giving assurances that there were no plans to purchase American weaponry. There is no plausible reason to doubt this, as Cyprus does not have the financial capacity to invest in ballistic missiles and fighter jets nor has the Anastasiades government ever shown any interest in bolstering the island’s defence.

Kyprianou has not given up this tune though, repeating it in a newspaper interview published on Sunday. He was unsettled, however, by an announcement, signed by Greek Cypriots representing US-based expatriate groups, which said his comments caused “sadness” and could “undermine the new geo-political cooperations of Cyprus”. The announcement also censured the Akel chief for not recognising all the preparatory work that had been done over the last 30 years to lift the US arms embargo on Cyprus.

On Monday the communist party hit back, explaining that its objections related to other provisions of the East Med Act which “aims to include Cyprus in the broader planning of the US for its prevailing in the competition with other countries such as Russia, China and Iran in the broader region”. Kyprianou had also said that the bill “ties us to Nato”, which is correct in the broader sense, but Akel’s real concern was the many provisions included in the bill about Russia, such as urging the US Secretary of State to “submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on Russian Federation malign influence in Cyprus, Greece and Israel since January 2017”. The bill lists what aspects of this “malign influence” should be investigated.

What Akel is afraid of is that the bill is another step westwards by Cyprus. The party’s hostility to the West hails back to the Cold War when Akel was a local branch of the Soviet Communist Party. Now there is no Soviet Communist Party, but the anti-West fanaticism has survived. This is why Akel remains so loyal to the Russian Federation – the leading adversary of the West – today and is concerned about the government’s foreign policy affecting Cyprus’ ties with Moscow.

Strangely, all the other parties that were advocating the granting of all types of facilities to Russia have suddenly gone quiet, leaving Akel to act as Moscow’s champion in Cyprus. It even uses the same rhetoric. It was the Russian foreign ministry that first warned about the “militarisation of Cyprus”, responding to news about the strengthening of relations with the US. The encouraging development is that Akel is now the only party that refuses to see the benefits of strengthening of relations with the US.

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