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22 May, 2024
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Penalizing Russia

The solidarity shown by the entire EU with regards to penalizing Russia inevitably has limitations.

George Kakouris

George Kakouris

The parallels between the Baltic countries' strategy towards Russia and the Cyprus strategy, so to speak, towards Turkey, seem easy (and are an official line of the Cypriot Foreign Ministry, which has instructed its diplomats to link the ongoing Russian invasion with the Turkish invasion).

And they lend themselves to didactic approaches of the "impose costs on Turkey" school of magic formula through our moral superiority. Failures of which are never about our own mistakes and miscalculations, but about the interests and double standards of other EU countries.

So instead of parallels of internal consumption and self-victimization, perhaps it is time to behave like an adult state among adults.

We must therefore be particularly careful with parallels, especially when today Cyprus, together with Greece, determine their attitude towards Russia on the basis of, among other things, economic interests. Just as Germany or Spain do with regard to their attitude towards Turkey.

If anything has enabled us to put forward our own needs today, it is, apart from Germany's attitude, that we supported Ukraine together with the rest of the EU from the very first moment (despite the Foreign Minister qualifying his statements and the near failure of President Anastasiades to go to Brussels from Dubai).

Let's not forget that if the Baltic countries are successfully promoting their positions today, they have not always been as successful. For years the approach of these countries, and other Eastern European countries that were Soviet satellites, was treated to some extent like our position on Turkey. With understanding and support but only up to a point where the interests of large countries and the EU begin to be affected.

Indeed, as we have seen in practice in recent weeks, the strategy of the Baltic countries is currently reaching its limits, as the other Member States are finding it difficult to take measures that will hurt Russia's economy more than their own. Yes, the countries in the east have every reason to make sacrifices. But the solidarity shown by the entire EU inevitably has limitations.

On the other hand, the argument that the EU should not tolerate certain behaviors in order to avoid encouraging the downward spiral of the current situation remains valid for Russia (which entered Georgia and Crimea without serious consequences), Serbia, which does not apply sanctions against Russia and is sliding in terms of the rule of law, and Turkey, with its well-known sins at home and abroad.

The history of the Baltic countries' attitude towards Russia, and the extent to which they have been able to draw support from the EU at particular junctures, contains lessons for how we can act towards Turkey as an EU member state.

Already the EU's (including Germany's) stance prevented an escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean in the summer of 2020. The fact that our country is an EU member state, as well as the issues Greece has with Turkey, already offer protection from situations similar to those of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is good for Cyprus in general, although it makes the job of Cypriot diplomacy somewhat more difficult. Our advantages bring with them obligations and the possibility of exerting influence in Euro-Turkish affairs.

The context of Euro-Turkish relations, based on relations with a country within NATO, with a more institutional relationship with the EU even if the accession process is frozen, is quite different from that of Euro-Russian relations.

If the Baltic crusade to impose costs on Russia - even in today's circumstances - finds some obstacles, it is easy to see how much more our crusade to impose costs on Turkey will find. So instead of parallels of internal consumption and self-victimization, perhaps it is time to behave like an adult state among adults.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Russia  |  Ukraine  |  diplomacy  |  politics

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