‘Unhealthy’ relations between Russia and Cyprus

The international community must “commit itself to a two-state solution” to the Cyprus problem if negotiations for reunification fail yet again, according to former British foreign secretary Jack Straw.

Straw served in the post between 2001 and 2006, and penned an article for magazine Politico.

He said the UK, as a guarantor power of Cyprus, should “break the spell of Cyprus, put the two-state solution on the table, and seek to persuade other partners that it is the best way to unfreeze this conflict”.

He added that “there are plenty of examples where splitting states was the least worst option available. Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into two states in 1993. In the Balkans, the dissolution of Yugoslavia was anything but peaceful, yet most of the new republics have a better future ahead of them now than they ever did when they were in a single nation”.

In addition, he said Cyprus should never had been allowed to join the European Union and Greek Cypriot negotiators of “serious duplicity” during the Republic’s application process.

He said “as the prospect of EU membership became clearer, UN negotiators, with international support, calculated that linking an agreement on a peace settlement to EU membership offered the best hope for solving the island’s divisions”.

He mentioned the Annan Plan referendum in 2004, to which “Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly in favour and Greek Cypriots voted against by an even greater margin”.

“Many of us who had witnessed this process believed that there had been serious duplicity on the part of Greek Cypriot negotiators. In retrospect, we could, and should have put Cyprus’s accession on ice at this stage, and made it clear to both sides that only a united island would be allowed to join the EU”, he said.

He added that “the bloc’s failure, to which I was a party, means the EU itself has presided over a frozen conflict, and in doing so, it has lost all serious leverage over Greek Cypriots”.

He said Greek Cypriots “believe, correctly, that they have carte blanche – not least in relation to Russia, and that any peace deal with the north, however accommodating to Greek Cypriot interests, will be less satisfactory than the status quo”.

“The history of UN negotiations since 2004 makes my point”.

Elsewhere in the article, he poured scorn on the Republic’s dealings with Russia, saying “the close association between Russia and the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus is longstanding, all pervasive, and, many believe, rather unhealthy”.

He added that “well into the last decade, tiny Cyprus was the third largest foreign direct investor in Russia”, saying the money was mostly Russian capital which had been hidden offshore in Cyprus to avoid tax and scrutiny and then reinvested back into Russia.