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20° Nicosia,
16 October, 2019
 
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Still surrounded 45 years later

Putting out small fires for internal politics amounts to gross negligence

Andreas Paraschos

Andreas Paraschos

We are living through a series Waterloo battles with the government pretending not to know about it and delusional politics obviously taking its toll.

There is no other way to interpret this, when at a time that Cyprus is surrounded by drilling vessels and military ships, the President of the Republic makes an announcement that he will respond in a week’s time to Akinci’s letter (13/7/2019) on energy matters.

A country with a comprehensive policy on matters of national interest, such as hydrocarbons in the case of the Republic of Cyprus, shouldn’t need a whole week to act in response. If this had been a big conglomerate, with a huge commercial deal putting its corporate future on the line, would it also take an entire week to respond?

But who will hold the President accountable when accountability does not thrive in this country, either in politics or in the domain justice, while the notion of “geostrategic planning” appears to be unfamiliar territory, at least from the looks of it, in the three ministries of foreign affairs, defence, and energy.

At a time when everyone was waiting on us, we could not even utter something coherent, we were just selling snake oil to our own people

As for Akinci’s letter (10/7/2019) on calling for an informal meeting similar to Crans Montana, Mr. Anastasiades expressed satisfaction while also alluding to preconditions, but he passed up an opportunity to address the essence which is to clarify once and for all whether the two sides agree on a Bicommunal Bizonal Federation (BBF). And then the UNSG would initiate a negotiation process based on a clear timeline.

During the two years after Crans Montana, while President Anastasiades was on a quest sounding out diplomats and testing daring ideas, he never argued in favour of a BBF solution. In fact, a foreign diplomatic source, who commented on the issue with the Akinci letters in the backdrop, admitted to us that UN officials and others with a lot of experience in the Cyprus peace talks have learned over the years to read between the lines. To put it in layman’s terms, the smell manure a mile away.

Despite all this, those in power have resorted to carrying out foreign policy on an ephemeral basis and only for internal consumption. To prove this, I note that last Wednesday during the Economist conference at Lagonissi Grand Resort, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides and Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis gave their own renditions while 24 hours a day local and foreign media were showing maps with Turkish ships on our shorelines.

Christodoulides addressed the members of an audience who had high expertise in political, financial, and military domains, as he talked up the importance of regional cooperation in energy security achieved in Cyprus through trilateral meetings. Lakkotrypis pressed on the significance of ExxonMobil finding natural gas off Cyprus because this “would help move towards the creation of an energy corridor either as a country in production, consumption, or gas transfer.

At a time when everyone was waiting on us, we, as the Republic of Cyprus, could not even utter something coherent. We were just selling snake oil to our own indigenous populace, all the while blaming our nemeses and pointing fingers at the British who pointed out twice our disputed waters and the Americans who repeated it.

And on the other side of the spectrum, our ancient-long allies, the Russians, are furious with Nicosia for exposing them, basically selling them out, through the Menendez-Rubio bill in the US Congress which allows the Republic to take out a lease, as President Anastasiades later admitted.

We are so well informed that up until three days ago we had no clue whether Fatih had found natural gas off the coast of Paphos, as it was reported the previous Sunday.

The totally unbelievable and random handling of the Cyprus problem has pushed hydrocarbons onto the negotiating table, while we find ourselves 45 years after the Turkish invasion surrounded again by Turkish ships. So Thucydides’ quote on the Athenian state’s gross negligence could very well have been written for us.

 

The article was first published by Kathimerini Cyprus on 21 July 2019

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Paraschos  |  peace talks  |  UN  |  Anastasiades  |  Akinci  |  natural gas  |  politics  |  opinion  |  BBF  |  Turkey  |  Greece  |  Crans Montana

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