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12° Nicosia,
14 June, 2024
 
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The FBI in Cyprus

President Christodoulides gambles on transparency in bid to restore reputation

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

By enlisting the help of the FBI – as announced recently – Cyprus is making an effort to deal with the problem of corruption that has been a blight on the country’s reputation for so many years.

The phenomenon grew out of proportion over the decades, especially compared to Cyprus’ size. Hence, in an effort to enhance the capabilities of the Cypriot state mechanism, it was judged essential to bring in outside help; enter the US agents with the expertise and tools to root out extensive corruption. They could play a crucial role in this fight. The overarching aim is to give Cyprus the know-how and information it needs to prevent and expose financial crimes.

The challenge is, indeed, formidable and it remains to be seen whether the Cypriot president is in a position to succeed in this effort when he is up against some very powerful interests, both domestic and foreign.

The fact that as an independent president, Nikos Christodoulides does not have a party mechanism to rely on – in contrast to his predecessors – gives him the freedom to act as he deems necessary without party restrictions, but on the other hand, makes his task even more onerous as he will not necessarily have the legislative support he needs.

One of the aims of this close cooperation with the American federal services is to stop entities, mainly those of Russian interests, from circumventing international sanctions via Cyprus. It may also be an attempt to respond, at the practical level, to criticism from some quarters during the 2023 pre-election period suggesting that Christodoulides had Russian support.

The partnership is focused on enhancing the Cypriot authorities’ abilities to investigate suspicious financial dealings – there has been a good deal of “hesitation” to this end in the past – and to safeguard the country’s legal system and economy.

Relatively inexperienced until now from a narrow political standpoint, but with plenty of experience in the international arena thanks to his time as foreign minister and also as a career diplomat, Christodoulides seems to be making a strategic choice in favor of transparency, which he hopes will lead to gains for Cyprus on both the domestic and international fronts.

In combination with the initiative to put Cyprus on the front line of humanitarian efforts in Gaza, the Cypriot president is trying to elevate his country’s role as a reliable strategic partner.

An invitation by US President Joe Biden next July, in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, would be a small yet important recognition of the role Nicosia has assumed.

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Cyprus  |  USA  |  FBI  |  cooperation

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