12° Nicosia,
27 February, 2021

Russia is drifting away

Cyprus has to latch onto opportunities as there are no magical solutions

Michalis Tsikalas

Michalis Tsikalas

The fact that Russia and Turkey are locked in an embrace which is getting stronger over time, whether it is manifested through weapons systems, the construction of a nuclear plant, or Syria, it should not go unnoticed in Cyprus. It is obvious now that the close relationship between the two countries faces no barriers; on the contrary, it has managed to overcome the crisis caused by the downing of the Russian fighter jet.

This whole situation raises questions regarding one fact, widely accepted by diplomat officials, that Russia can influence Turkey on the Cyprus problem. This is especially true as the latter’s relationship with the EU is going through a rough patch if not a cooling period, something that became apparent when Germany, France, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland all demanded that a payment of the remaining three billion euro to Turkey be made solely at the expense of the EU budget.

The feeling of resentment in the Union is growing, especially due to its own realisation of being dependent on Turkey, the incomplete set of measures or solutions to problems on the part of Ankara and little success in European diplomacy. That’s actually a serious issue but this is neither the place nor the time to address it. So this is how a difficult relationship becomes more difficult. Even when the funds have been or were supposed to be the ultimate bond that would hold the two sides together, finding a common language or at least one that Turkey understood, and the whole thing seems to be falling apart.

If the Cyprus-Russia relationship has departed from its foundation, this could mean that whatever is going on backstage is not in our favour

So what can Erdogan say to Putin and vice versa regarding the Cyprus problem? Their joint vision in the marathon race on energy and weapons armament makes the big headline for the two countries, and our national issue will hardly make it into the fourth paragraph of the text they are preparing to write. If the Cyprus-Russia relationship has departed at all levels from the foundation on which it was built, this could mean that whatever is going on backstage is not in our favour. Looking at the initial stages, there hasn’t been anything that immediately jumps out pointing to a Russia-Cyprus relationship in crisis.

However, when push comes to shove and it is time for decisions on the Cyprus problem, nobody can foresee Russia’s position which seems to be drifting away more and more, even though nothing has actually taken place at this early stage. That is, of course, besides what the Ambassador of Russia to Cyprus is saying, basically describing this as an agreement between Turkey and Russia and nothing more. Well yes, this is what politics has taught us, focusing on what can be seen now and not looking ahead.

No magic solutions

We ought to concern ourselves with these issues at an official level, and at the same time, we should put proposals on the table that include Russia’s involvement in our energy affairs, since we don’t have any other field which would provide a practical and far-reaching outcome. Or we haven’t developed it, bearing in mind that Russia could play a role in this new conversion process for Cyprus. But taking action on any chosen path remains difficult in the world of energy choices.

The idea of Russia's involvement, in case there is a call for the construction of a terminal in Cyprus, has already been said and it's on the record. This idea would resemble Turkey's move on the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. So, when there are no magical solutions, not just for the Cyprus problem but for any issue, we ought to seriously consider the choices we have in order to further broaden the range of interests around Cyprus.

This is going on while taking note that Israel has turned its back on Turkey, and with the EU countries mentioned above along with Egypt or Jordan, a great anti-Turkish front is forming and we will need to take full advantage of it, in an effort where we cannot exclude anyone as we don’t have the luxury to pick and choose.

Cyprus  |  Russia  |  EU  |  Israel  |  Egypt  |  Jordan  |  energy  |  Turkey  |  Akkuyu  |  Varna  |  refugee

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