Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Cyprus’ foreign policy after the flood

Above is a very good interview aired last night on Cyprus TV with foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who discusses the state of Cypriot diplomacy in the wake of the island’s economic crash. 

Specifically, Kasoulides stresses that there has been no rupture in relations with Russia and argues that the recent rapprochement between Israel and Turkey is not necessarily a setback to energy co-operation between Tel Aviv and Lefkosia. (Kasoulides points out, in fact, that he’s off to Israel on Monday with energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis to discuss joint Israeli-Cypriot hydrocarbon projects). 

Kasoulides also notes that Cyprus does not feel under pressure to agree the transfer of its hydrocarbon products through Turkey to facilitate a Cyprus solution and adds that such a pipeline would not, in any case, be the most profitable way to export Cypriot gas, with an LNG plant making more sense. 

Kasoulides also reveals that Turkey is pressing for the immediate resumption of Cyprus negotiations in order to exploit the current political and economic weaknesses of the Greek side, and he strongly rebukes the UN’s special Cyprus adviser Alexander Downer for promoting Turkey’s agenda. Kasoulides also condemns Downer for the way he has handled the Cyprus talks since being appointed in 2008 and stresses that Lefkosia will insist that when negotiations resume, which may not be until September, the groundwork has been thoroughly prepared so that talks can be meaningful. Kasoulides says the Downer-led negotiations have become a pointless exercise, consisting of the Greek and Turkish sides meeting and reading out statements outlining their positions. 

Two questions not posed to Kasoulides in the interview. 1. How have relations between Athens and Lefkosia been affected by recent Eurozone events? 2. Given the breakdown in relations between Cyprus and its European ‘partners’ how will this affect Cyprus’ ability to advance its policies in the EU regarding Turkey?

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