Thursday, 12 February 2015

Greek Cyprus – the ‘Prostitute’ of the Eastern Mediterranean

Possible locations for Russian Air-Bases in south Cyprus

Greek Cyprus has announced the country is ready to host Russia at its aviation and naval bases, marking a split with its fellow EU members, whom are in a deep conflict with Moscow over the Russian military activities in Ukraine, which has led to a violent insurgency within the country. Nato member France, and Israel in particular, both demand access to the airbase in question which is known as Andreas Papandreou Airbase, which was constructed by the southern Cypriot government jointly with Greece. 

Needless to say, this has drawn marked disquiet from Britain and other EU members but for differing reasons. That Greek Cyprus (and Greece) is aligning themselves ever more closely with Moscow has to be a cause of major concern. Their separate and conjoint raison d'être of course is Russian money; in effect, they are once again selling themselves to Russia.

Cyprus historically is an island of huge strategic importance and since time immemorial the island has been fought over, conquered, lost, traded and ultimately divided for that reason. Turkey’s continued military presence is not just to provide security to Turkish Cypriots, while Britain’s presence since 1878 is not wholly in fulfilling her role as a Guarantor Power of the arguably defunct Republic of Cyprus either. It is for strategic purposes primarily and this is also the reason that Russia and Israel want to gain a military foothold there. South Cyprus will let them too – in return for cash, of course. 

As yet, we have not heard a reaction from Ankara as to Turkey’s position on a Russian military presence so close to her coastline. Syria is only 100 miles away too and whilst Russia already have a deep-water port there, airbases on Cyprus will further aid Moscow’s regional ambitions which are a part of Putin’s expansionist policies.

Putting Britain’s case, top British envoy, the British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Damian Roberick Todd who has already had spats with south Nicosia over the gas exploration ‘crisis’ in the region, has highlighted the position of the EU in relation to Russia and the actions of south Cyprus are out of line with voted EU decisions. As ever, south Cyprus ‘olive-pick’ the pieces of the EU that suit it and ignore those that it does not such as austerity measures that are in place because of the fiscal incompetence of the Greek Cypriots. The latter is reflected in Athens too where the newly elected government are not only tearing up the wholly vital austerity regime there, but also aligning closely with Moscow. There is surely a case for suspending the EU membership of both Greece and their cultural siblings, Greek-Cyprus.

South-Cyprus have flirted with Russia in search of soft loans in recent times, although in 2013 when Greek Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris visited Moscow to sell his and his state’s soul to the Russians, when air bases were then on offer, the Russians did not fall for his dubious charms. His dance did not entice nor lure the Muscovite lucre; what was on offer was not juicy enough. Now the south-Nicosia ‘pole-dancers’ are weaving their sordid art once again with similar financial ambitions. This time the Russians are ‘crawling along the Greek-Cypriot kerbs’ because circumstances are now much changed.

By way of its proxy on Cyprus, the socialist Akel Party, Russians have always been active in Cyprus diplomacy and local politics. There are some who will claim that the July 15 Greek induced ‘Colonels Coup’ against Archbishop Makarios, as well as the July 20, 1974 Turkish intervention that the coup triggered, were both a part of a concerted effort to prevent the island from drifting towards the Soviet camp. Furthermore, a Russian military presence in terms of aircraft will inevitably bring both supply and naval vessels too. There is also a Greek-Cyprus/Israeli defence agreement in place since 2010 so how will that be affected?

Whatever the outcome of south-Cyprus ‘street-walking’, the one certain thing is that Turkish Cypriot isolation will be no closer to ending for Moscow has traditionally backed the Greek-Cypriot cause. Cyprus is rammed with Russians now in both the north and the south of the island and no doubt influence much in commercial terms at least in general. One can only imagine that Turkey may bolster her forces in Northern Cyprus to enhance her own security. Dangerous times indeed on the ‘island of tears’.


Chris Green

Beşparmak Media Services

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