The Republic of Cyprus is scrambling to block the Turkish Cypriot administration from upgrading its status in the northern part of the divided island, with Greek Cypriot officials in the south confirming reports of new counter measures with diplomatic missions to countries including Gambia.
According to Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Kornelios Korneliou, the Cypriot government is sending a special representative to Gambia to stop Banjul from opening up diplomatically to the Turkish Cypriot north, a regime that is not recognized by other countries except Turkey.
During a visit to Turkey in early December, Gambia’s Vice President Badara Alieu Joof and his delegation flew to the northern part of Cyprus where he toured a university and also expressed his “full solidarity and support” during a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.
Joof, who invited Tatar to visit Gambia, reportedly declared that Banjul’s foreign policy would 'not be dictated by others'
Joof, who invited Tatar to visit Gambia, reportedly declared that Banjul’s foreign policy would “not be dictated by others.”
But Greek Cypriots are on a mission to warn Gambia against recognizing the north, with Korneliou reportedly telling the Cyprus New Agency that foreign ministry senior official Thessalia Salina Shambos would head a diplomatic mission to the West African country.
"This is an issue we are constantly following. We need to be vigilant and we will act as needed," Korneliou told CNA.
New embassies in 2023
Nicosia is also tackling other parts of the world with the opening of new embassies planned in 2023 in Argentina and Bahrein, the only Gulf state with no Cypriot embassy.
Korneliou also pointed to additional diplomatic services with more staff heading to Mexico to reestablish a presence in Central America, opening an embassy in Ethiopia, which is the seat of the African Union, as well as contemplating a move in Central Asia.
Back in September Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community to stop imposing sanctions on northern Cyprus.
Nicosia has been arguing against the move, accusing Turkey and Turkish Cypriots of violating human rights and UN resolutions.
In August 2022 Nicosia voiced its displeasure over Tatar’s official visit to Baku, with Greek Cypriots saying they were disappointed by the Azeri president.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides warned that Baku was ignoring institutions within the European Union, an organization with which Azerbaijan was seeking institutional ties, he said, with the Greek Cypriot chief diplomat also pointing out such an agreement would require approval by the Republic of Cyprus.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, 15 new attaches were hired at the foreign ministry in the last year while 10 more will be hired in February 2023. Five other ministry employees were recently promoted to Ambassador status.
Cyprus has been divided for half a century with the two communities on the ethnically-split island failing to reach agreement over the years to reunify the country.
The island remains divided between a recognized south governed by Greek Cypriots and a Turkish Cypriot north not recognized by any country except Turkey.