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06 December, 2023
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Cyprus urges a serious approach to Middle East crisis

Cyprus in the heart of Middle East conflict

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The war in the Middle East, triggered by a heinous and barbaric terrorist attack by Hamas last Saturday, is a situation that Cyprus is unfortunately familiar with. As an independent state, Cyprus has witnessed various rounds of Arab-Israeli conflicts, including the Six Day War, the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, the Lebanon War, and the Palestinian intifadas.

However, it's important to note that unlike 1967 or 2006 in Lebanon, Cyprus lacks a comprehensive system like MKD to provide live coverage of these conflicts or engage in ideological postings, polemics, fan-like analyses, or public statements without empathy, serious preparation, or effective war management. This war in the Middle East, happening right next to us, is significantly impacting the region's balances and the international system.

Historically, the Middle East, its states, its peoples, and its history have remained somewhat unfamiliar to Cyprus. It has often been viewed through the lens of "Arab villages" where Cypriots sought work shelter, stereotypes about "Jews," and commercial items acquired during trips to the region. The Middle East was primarily understood in relation to the Cyprus problem, with limited depth.

The perception of war by Cypriot public opinion often falls into the trap of whataboutism. Polemics between sides involve character assassinations, tragic ideologies, and anchor development that reveals the character of the person behind the journalist. These developments can obscure Cyprus's true geopolitical role in the region. Cyprus tends to respond reactively, largely at the request of the EU, rather than proactively claiming its role. Eradicating whataboutism in Cyprus is essential, as it stifles public debate, doesn't solve the Palestinian problem, and brings no one's child back, Israeli or Palestinian.

A war in the region is not an "opportunity" for the Cyprus problem nor a "curse." It profoundly affects us, in ways we may not fully comprehend while events are unfolding.

The current period is critical, and it's bringing about tectonic changes in the region. Cyprus needs to approach these developments with seriousness, considering the implications they may have. This is not a time for political communication exercises at the expense of substance. The ongoing war threatens the framework of a two-state solution in the Middle East, and its demise could occur in parallel with the framework for a solution to the Cyprus peace process, which has far-reaching consequences for our region, our Israeli and Palestinian friends, and, most importantly, our own country. Serious consideration is paramount at this juncture.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  war  |  Israel  |  conflict

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