Thursday, 16 February 2012

Israel, Cyprus: a relationship neither wants

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been in Cyprus today for talks on energy, security, trade and so on with President Christofias. It was the first ever visit to Cyprus by an Israeli PM; which was something Netanyahu commented on, saying that even though it only takes 45 minutes to get from Tel Aviv to Larnaca, it’s taken 63 years for an Israeli prime minister to visit Cyprus.

The fact that this is the first visit to Cyprus by an Israeli prime minister indicates how poor relations between the two countries have been down the years, with the Israelis allied to Turkey and Cyprus close to the Palestinians and the other Arab nations; and how rickety this new relationship is. Indeed, it is a relationship neither country really wants. The Israelis would much prefer things were still the same for them with the Turks and the Cypriots find it hard to accept that they now have to overlook the fact that Israel’s violent usurpation of Palestinian lands reminds them of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus, an invasion and occupation Israel had always found it convenient to support, in one way or another.


Anonymous said...

Actually, John, not only do Cyprus and Israel both want this new alliance, they need it. There were differences in the past between Jews and Orthodox Christians,and there will continue to be differences. For instance, Cyprus will remain committed to an eventual Palestinian statehood beside Israel. But Cyprus as well as anyone knows that Islamic fundamentalists can be dangerous. Moreover, the Jews have a historical link to the land their nation is founded on, unlike the Turks in occupied Cyprus. Things have changed, and Greeks should embrace the new alliance, as it is one of the few bright spots in these bleak times. Israel offers Cyprus and indeed Greece an opportunity to forge a strong alliance that can act as a counterweight to Turkish expansionism. I believe Israel is sincere, since Turkey's mask has fallen off with Erdogan at the helm. It is not in Israel's interest to be surrounded by hostile Arab nations, PLUS a bellicose Turkey controlling ALL of Cyprus (and possibly half the Aegean), and all the natural wealth in their waters. Israel needs a clear pathway to Europe, and Cyprus, however small, plays that role. Greeks cannot afford to shun such an alliance, nor one with Russia. Greece should continue to support Cyprus' efforts and build its own alliance with Israel and Russia. At the same time, they need to radically reform their economy and mend fences with Germany and France. Greece's salvation may come with careful exploitation of its offshore oil and gas reserves, and to do so,strong alliances are required to keep Turkey at bay when Greece finally (and under international law legally) declares its own EEZ.

John Akritas said...

I think you're wrong to believe that Israel is 'sincere' or that Israel wouldn't immediately turn back to Turkey if the opportunity arose. They'd much rather pump their gas through Turkey than through Cyprus. Indeed, why on earth would Israel choose an alliance with two states like Greece and Cyprus when they could have one with Turkey. But needs must, and it would be smart on the Greek side to make it so that any rapprochement between Turkey and Israel is difficult.