Thursday, 19 March 2015

Greek Cyprus sign 11 Treaties with Russia: Now the ‘Russian Bear’ is in the backyard of the EU.

Divided Cyprus: Perhaps soon to be the "United Soviet Republic of Cyprusgrad"

 A recent agreement signed between South Cyprus and Russia to allow Russian navy vessels to dock in Cyprus ports has raised concerns in the UK. The controversial deal allows heavily armed Russian warships to dock in Cypriot ports, a move which was “worrying and disappointing” according to some British MPs. Whilst the EU collectively have been applying significant sanctions against Moscow in the light of the tensions in Ukraine, both the Greek Cypriots and the Greeks have been cosying up to their longstanding friends, the Russians. 

With tensions on the increase between the West and Moscow because of the Ukraine crisis, Moscow must be quietly delighted to be in the EU’s backyward. Although the Russian navy will only be permitted to dock in Cyprus ports for reasons of counter-terrorism and to combat piracy, it was hinted by the so-called President Anastasiades that Russian war planes could also be permitted to use the military airbase in Paphos. Frankly, anyone who thinks that the Russians will limit their visits to south Cyprus ports to ‘counter-terrorism and to combat piracy’ are wholly deluded. This deal gives Russia a significant foothold to add to that which they have long enjoyed in Syria.

Of course, all this has to do with Greek Cyprus’ economic woes. As a part of the series of deals, Russia restructured a 2.5 billion euro ($2.8 billion) loan to South Cyprus that it signed in 2011, cutting the annual interest rate to 2.5 % from 4.5 % and the redemption period to 2018-2021. The work-shy and economically moribund Greek Cypriots have sold what passes for their souls for short-term gain, possibly in the hope that once their fortunes have changed in the light of what they believe are vast riches coming from Natural Gas resources, they might be able to pay the Russians off and the latter will quietly leave. Dream on! The ‘red-streak’ that is now running throughout the entire island could well become a ‘red-carpet’ in fairly short-order to the extent that Cyprus could find itself becoming effectively re-named as ‘The United Soviet Republic of Cyprusgrad’! Be in no doubt, the Russians are in Cyprus to stay and those on both sides of the soon to become the ‘Red Line’ who are selling land and property to them are being extremely selfish and foolish.

Winston Churchill created the very descriptive phrase, the ‘Iron Curtain in a speech that surprised the United States and Britain: "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent." That curtain fell in 1991 and since then the Russians have travelled the globe and have settled in many places thanks to their often ill-gotten Roubles. Cyprus is awash with them too on both sides of said line. There is good reason to be extremely concerned at this development, underpinned as it is by the 11 treaties recently signed in Moscow.

The deal represents the latest move of a resurgent Russia with an increasing interest in the eastern Mediterranean, especially with stakes in Greece, Cyprus, and Syria. Although Russian warships officially withdrew from the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Cold war, the changing situation in the Eurozone and the ongoing Syrian civil war led to the re-establishment of the Russian Eastern Mediterranean fleet for the first time in 20 years in 2012. The latest agreement has fuelled speculation that the Kremlin had engineered the deal by putting together a multi-billion pound package to bail out the debt-ridden South.

In the meantime, Great Britain which has two important military bases in South Cyprus and who has called for stringent economic sanctions against Russia for aiding pro-Russian separatists, will be keeping a wary eye on developments. President Putin was reportedly infuriated by Britain’s announcement recently that it would deploy 75 troops to the Ukraine as trainers. In retaliation and in cold-war style, Russian bombers now regularly test the RAF by encroaching UK airspace on sabre-rattling missions whilst Russian Naval Submarines infest Britain’s coastal waters too and there is precious little that can be done about it.

Speculatively, it is perhaps a matter of time before similar deals are done between Moscow and Athens for after all, there are historically close ties between the two nations and with the new Greek government being hard-left wing, there is synergy there too. There are compelling reasons to view these recent developments with heightened concerns whilst once again, the Greeks have shown themselves to be perfidious allies and both Greece and Greek Cypus should be thrown out of the EU without delay.


Chris Green

Beşparmak Media Services