Cyprus Mail
Our View

Our View: Opposition parties have no place in setting foreign policy

SOMETIMES, it is difficult to know whether the country’s foreign policy is the responsibility of the opposition parties rather than of the government. On Monday, the press spokesman of Diko, Pavlos Mylonas said that his party was bringing back its proposal “for the upgrading of the co-operation between Cyprus and Greece through the institutionalisation of a Supreme Council of Strategic Cooperation because the coordination of Athens and Nicosia should not be restricted to the exchange of visits and meetings of the foreign ministers.”

In any other country, an opposition party would know its limits and not even try to dictate how relations with other states should be pursued. It can criticise the government’s choices and question its decisions, but trying to define the format of relations with other states is a clear case of overstepping the boundaries. A serious opposition party, that believed it had an idea that would serve the national interest, should have conveyed this to the president or the foreign minister privately, instead of making a public announcement about it.

The “institutionalisation” of the so-called supreme council that does not even exist in theory was “a dire necessity,” said Mylonas “because of the aggressiveness of Turkey and the tensions and uncertainties in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean.” But had Diko asked the Mitsotakis government in Greece whether it wanted such a council? While the two countries might both be facing Turkey’s aggressiveness, regarding gas explorations, they may have very different ways of dealing with it. Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has repeatedly said he wanted to resolve differences with Turkey through dialogue.

President Anastasiades, on the other hand, opposes putting hydrocarbons on the negotiating table, saying the issue would be resolved with a settlement of the Cyprus problem, that does not look like it will ever materialise. Why should the Greek government, which may have a different agenda from Cyprus, be obliged to coordinate its moves with Nicosia? An example of the different thinking emerged at the last European summit at which Mitsotakis disagreed with Anastasiades’ idea of seeking sanctions against Turkey over the Turkey-Libya memorandum.

Greek governments have traditionally backed the choices of the Cyprus government on the Cyprus problem, even if they disagreed, but the current situation is different. Regarding the current dispute with Turkey, Greece will never agree to place itself in a position in which there would be a possibility its moves might be restricted in any way by Anastasiades. Cooperation between the two governments through the regular exchange of views and ideas is all there should be and if Diko wants a supreme council of strategic cooperation, it can set one up when it is in power.

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