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29 March, 2023
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Analysis: Kyprianou's speech in Turkey

Kyprianou delivered a speech that bears the characteristics of statism with a deep rooted prejudice against the West

AKEL’s speech in Turkey is a reminder that political parties in Cyprus have no vision or strategy to address the urgent political developments that we face.

While many stakeholders look up to AKEL to deliver a sensible, anti-nationalist approach to resolving the long standing Cyprus conflict – they will find themselves disappointed.

Breaking down the speech, point by point, it becomes apparent that it is a summary of traditional Greek Cypriot positions, shared by many in Cyprus and not a daring speech, referred to as such by local media.

Kyprianou delivered a speech that bears the characteristics of statism with a deep rooted prejudice against the West. According to Kyprianou there are four major factors that determine Eastern Mediterranean geopolitics.

If others determine our future then politicians can not be held accountable for their actions

First, the discovery of natural resources is both a blessing and a curse. This of course shows that there is no coherent vision for the development of energy resources but more importantly that the objective itself is considered unideological by AKEL.

Second, the conflicts in the region, Syria, ISIS, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the Cyprus issue are all interconnected with energy competition, said Kyprianou. These conflicts, in truth, have at their core ethnic, sectarian and religious divisions and did not arise due to energy disputes. Kyprianou also took the oportunity to intensify his rhetoric against Cyprus-Israeli cooperation. Military cooperation with Israel ''entails enormous risks that will bring new cycles of insecurity and in our view delusions'' said Kyprianou.

Third, Kyprianou reminded his audience that ''the US is causing havoc'' in the Middle East. Forth, the military industrial complex has as its aim to further militarize the region. Historians and students of the Cold War will find the above familiar. As a side note, the recent overtures by President Anastasiades over a NATO role in a future settlement of the Cyprus issue had at its aim to highlight this specific ideological AKEL weakness - that AKEL will and is also capable of rejecting a solution based on ideological beliefs. 

The speech, addressing a foreign audience, delivered in Turkey, had at its center a leftist Cold War era pitch. Surely it must be obvious that an ideological inquiry with such a starting point has a predetermined outcome in international relations: any failure of our policies will be the result of the actions of others.

But accountability resides in the ability of voters to hold politicians accountable based on the decisions they take. If others determine our future then politicians can not be held accountable for their actions. Every politician knows this.

''How do we solve this puzzle'', Kyprianou asks: ''Natural resources belong to the people and should be public social goods''.

''Energy resources should become a factor of peace and regional cooperation, not a factor of tension and militarization. Based on respect for international law, the law of the sea and the inalienable sovereign rights that arise for each state. Possibly, these may be heard for some as a romantic slogan. However, as AKEL, we believe that it is entirely feasible if the governments of the region become aware and aligned with the real interest of their peoples. This is exactly what we propose - a realistic and mutually beneficial road - for the future of our country, Cyprus.’’

Such a presentation is as ingenious as that of an average Cypriot politician – and nowadays every populist demagogue- playing it safe and keeping their voters satisfied. How can we scold populists around the world when we practice the same rule book?   

Answers to our current predicament, the Cyprus problem, energy, social and economic progress require a vision for the future and a set of specific actions to be taken in advance of future developments and not post facto expressions of hope.

Perhaps what we need most though is to dim our self-righteousness.

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