Cyprus’ political parties grudgingly condemned Russia’s recognition of eastern Ukraine’s breakaway regions, even though some could not even bring themselves to mention Russia by name in their announcements. In Edek’s and Akel’s condemnations there was no mention of the country that had violated international law and the sovereignty of Ukraine by recognising the secessionist regimes of Luhansk and Donetsk.
While Edek “fully understood” Ukraine’s demand for the securing of its sovereign rights, it felt obliged to point out that “Nato should not cause instability in the region and put peace at risk.” Edek also censured the stance of “our European partners that rush to announce sanctions against Russia, but do not follow the same policy against Turkey.” Akel’s position was that “international law and the principle of territorial integrity of states must be respected by all states,” and that diplomacy and dialogue “must not be abandoned.”
Disy leader Averof Neophytou also avoided mentioning Russia with regard to the violation of international law in his statement, focusing instead on the need of Cyprus to act pre-emptively. Cyprus would align itself with the political decision of the EU, he said, but at the same time “we need to examine in depth how our country is affected at economic and political level.” He referred to the possible consequences for the Cyprus problem, the effects of possible sanctions on the economy and the repercussions of possible counter-measures by Russia. Akel had also urged the government to prepare for the impact developments would have for Cyprus.
There may be economic consequences for Cyprus, but instead of examining how the country’s interests would be affected by the chain of events sparked by Ukraine should the parties not be taking a stand on principle, as they constantly demand of the rest of the world in the case of the Cyprus issue? What Russia has done in the Ukraine is very similar to what Turkey has done in Cyprus. It has even labelled its actions as a ‘peacekeeping’ operation, as Turkey had done in 1974. This is why our political parties should be unequivocal in their condemnations, instead of mincing their words, and run the risk of being accused of ‘double standards’, which they accuse the rest of the world of.
At least, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides spoke out. Speaking from Paris, he said that “any action that violates the Ukraine’s territorial integrity goes against all basic principles of international law.” This is all that needs to be said by a country like Cyprus, which has also suffered from the aggression of a powerful neighbour.