We have written about Cyprus – after decades of close ties with the Soviet Union and Russia – finally taking its place in the West under the Christodoulides government. It immediately implemented EU sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recently formalised cooperation with the US in countering money laundering and sanctions violations. A memorandum of understanding between the FBI and the Cyprus police is also on the cards.

It was very encouraging to see this pro-West orientation listed among the government’s foreign policy aims. In a presentation reviewing his first year as foreign minister on Thursday, Constantinos Kombos listed “adherence to our West-looking orientation” and “consolidation of strong relations with the USA” as one of the government’s policy objectives. Another was the “utilisation of our EU membership,” which is also important given how the Christofias and Anastasiades governments often acted as representatives of the Russian Federation in the Union.

What was surprising was the “strategic upgrading of relations with the United Kingdom,” which no previous government was prepared to openly declare as an objective given the prevailing sentiment which always saw Britain as a foe, fighting against the interests of the Republic. This has been a very popular narrative, cultivated and encouraged by the Soviet Union and its local supporters since the time of the Cold War, especially as Britain was often involved in peace initiatives for the Cyprus problem, initiatives that were always viewed as pro-Turkish.

It is unprecedented for a Cyprus government to speak openly about its “West-looking orientation” and about strengthening relations with the US and UK. No government had such a clear, pro-West line, in the past, because the West, thanks to the Soviet-inspired propaganda of Akel, also adopted by Diko and Edek and endorsed by most newspapers, was considered a supporter of Turkey and its occupation. Even the Clerides government, the most pro-Western we had, was cautious about taking a clear stand for fear of alienating large sections of the electorate. This was an indication of how deeply rooted hostility to the West actually was.

Perhaps the government has sensed a change in public perceptions which allowed it to taken an openly pro-Western line. The truth is that there has not been a hostile reaction to cooperation with the US by the anti-West parties and media. It may come later, if the government takes the next step and applies for membership in Partnership for Peace, dismissed by Akel as the “waiting room for joining Nato.” It might not seem as outlandish an idea as it once had been, especially now that Cyprus has severed its links with the Russian Federation.