If there had been any lingering doubts about President Nikos Christodoulides’ commitment to strengthening Cyprus’ relations with the United States, they completely disappeared on Monday when the two countries signed a strategic dialogue agreement in Washington. The agreement sets in motion a structured dialogue between the two governments which will engage in high-level talks twice a year on a range of issues, including humanitarian crisis management, terrorism and security, energy, trade and investment and education.

The US has a formalised strategic dialogue with 30 countries of which 13 are EU member-states. Cyprus has now joined this club and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that this development, “is indicative of the further deepening and broadening of the relationship between the two countries in a number of ways.”  And as part of this deepening of the relationship, Cypriots could soon be able to travel to the US without a visa – it was reported that this would be one of the matters that would be discussed.

This is part of an ongoing strengthening of relations between Nicosia and Washington, made possible by Christodoulides’ full cooperation on sanctions and combatting money laundering. He had asked for US help on these matters and invited the FBI and Justice Department to help the government investigate money laundering and sanction-violations in Cyprus, a move that underlined his commitment to cleaning up Cyprus’ image. The role he played in promoting and facilitating the Amalthea corridor also went down well in Washington, according to government sources.

These decisions would have earned Washington’s praise for another reason that nobody mentioned – they are certain to lead to the cooling of Nicosia’s, until recently, close relations with Moscow, which were viewed with suspicion in the West. Deputy government spokesman Yiannis Antoniou, on Tuesday, dismissed suggestions that the strategic dialogue agreement with the US would not affect Cyprus’ relations with other countries, but it is very clear it will, with country in particular – Russia.

We live in a polarised world, in which countries are increasingly being forced to take sides and Cyprus has chosen the West, something that is certain to negatively affect relations with the Russian Federation. We are, after all, too small a country to try to play both sides like Turkey had done for some time now. It is reassuring Christodoulides chose the West, after decades of close political and economic ties with Russia, which no other president ever dared to tamper with.

Christodoulides avoided talking about the agreement in political terms, in a written statement in which he welcomed the signature of the agreement. He spoke instead about the possibility of visa-free travel and the good prospects for the economy, as the agreement could attract investment and boost trade relations. These are all important factors but there is no denying that the strategic dialogue agreement was first and foremost a political decision by Christodoulides – a very good political decision.