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12° Nicosia,
26 June, 2024
 
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Christodoulides offered Cyprus on a silver platter?

In a bold move that raised eyebrows, President Christodoulides offered Cyprus as Qatar's ambassador to the EU despite scandalous human rights and corruption allegations

Pavlos Xanthoulis

Pavlos Xanthoulis

"You can consider Cyprus as a member-state of the EU, as your ambassador in Brussels, and I look forward to our consultations so that we can further strengthen our relations," President Christodoulides said, making an unprecedented overture to the Emir of Qatar. In this context, he essentially placed the Cypriot state at the service of Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to support Doha's ambitions within the EU.

Under Christodoulides, Cyprus is ready to become Qatar's ambassador to the EU. Qatar, notably involved in the Qatargate scandal, was accused of bribing MEPs and EU officials, leading to high-profile arrests and evidence showing it was the official Qatari government distributing funds to influence Brussels. President Christodoulides seems willing to overlook the involvement of figures like Eva Kaili, her partner Francesco Giorgi, and Antonio Panzeri in Qatargate. He appears prepared to dismiss the scandal that shook the EU and its institutions to serve as Qatar's ambassador to the EU on behalf of the Cypriot state.

This is the most troubling aspect of Christodoulides' statement—the fact that the elected president of Cyprus does not hesitate to put the Cypriot state at the service of any emir. This was his proposal, made publicly. By offering the Cypriot state to Qatar, he flirts with taking on the role of "ambassador" of Qatar to the EU—those who distribute petrodollars and might, if they wish, offer some to Cyprus. However, even this likely would not save the current government from its political woes.

''You can consider Cyprus as a member-state of the EU, as your ambassador in Brussels, and I look forward to our consultations so that we can further strengthen our relations'' -Christodoulides

If Christodoulides does take on the role of Qatar's ambassador to the EU, what can we expect? Will he play the part of Kaili, defending Qatar at the European Council despite its record of human rights violations, especially around the World Cup? Does he recall that Amnesty International accused Qatar of subjecting workers to 'forced labor'? Or has he forgotten reports of the inhumane conditions imposed by the Qatari state, which, according to The Guardian, resulted in the deaths of 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka from 2010 to 2020?

How exactly will our president embody Qatar's ambassador to the EU, and what will he say about Doha's role? About the more than $220 billion Qatar spent on the World Cup, bribing EU officials while paying foreign workers just $275 a month, thousands of whom died due to "forced labor" and harsh working conditions?

President Christodoulides should know that certain entities and actions cannot be defended or embellished, regardless of potential trade-offs. Qatar is one such case. Its actions have tainted its reputation so thoroughly that anyone seeking to become its ambassador automatically exposes themselves to criticism.

Unfortunately, Christodoulides has exposed himself—not just personally, which is of lesser concern, but as the elected President of the Republic of Cyprus. He demonstrated a willingness to put the Cypriot state at the service of any emir, regardless of Qatar's tarnished record. Christodoulides may aspire to become Qatar's ambassador to the EU, but his remarks alongside the Emir have portrayed a Cypriot state on the brink of political despair. A leader willing to defend human rights violations and the bribery of EU officials for potential economic deals with Qatar is unacceptable. The word shame is an understatement.

[This op-ed by Pavlos Xanthoulis was translated and edited for clarity]

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Qatar  |  diplomacy  |  politics

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