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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ A new style of foreign policy ]

A new style of foreign policy

MINUTES before the President arrived at 10 Downing Street, an employee busily hoovered the red carpet outside. While collecting the dirt and dust left by previous leaders, the cleaner was unaware of the fresh start being made in relations between Cyprus and its old “nemesis”, the UK.

Yesterday's meeting between Demetris Christofias and Gordon Brown signalled a major shift in the policies and attitudes of the two countries towards each other. The present Cypriot government has learnt hard and fast that upsetting or snubbing Britain does not help to achieve the goals set for the island's future.

“The Memorandum was the product of hard work to take relations with the UK further,” said a government source, part of the London entourage.

“You can't ignore a country, whether they're friendly or not. You need to knock on doors. You don't choose to turn your back on Britain, even when there are disagreements.”

The fact that Britain remains a guarantor power, a significant member of the EU and a permanent member of the UN Security Council all help to support this view.

However, the clarity of judgement was not always so present. Cyprus and Britain came to loggerheads on numerous occasions in the past, more recently on issues concerning how to handle Turkey's accession path and the Turkish Cypriots post-referendum. Last year's strategic partnership between the UK and Turkey served to add fuel to the fire.

However, the Memorandum signed yesterday marked a real turning point in relations. There are clauses in the text which effectively guarantee that Turkey's strategic partnership, as it stands, can only go so far in terms of upgrading the “TRNC” and/or orchestrating a “virgin birth”. It's a strong message of reassurance for Cyprus from Britain.

It remains to be seen whether the clause on “economic integration” based on EU Council conclusions will stick to economic development and aid, or whether the spectre of direct aid will show its face.

Christofias emphasised the commitment to the 1960 Treaties, from which the Republic of Cyprus was born. He called on Brown to help him achieve full EU membership for Turkey, providing it fulfils all its obligations to EU members (Cyprus). For once, the two leaders were talking the same language.

“We have changed our language. We no longer talk about Britain exerting pressure. We are looking for Turkey to do what it has to do to join the EU, which is in everyone's interests,” said the source.

So, the government has gone from pushing Britain to punish or slap Turkey for its wrongdoings, to utilising its influence over Turkey regarding its accession... for the benefit of all involved and the region.

There was even talk in the memo of a united Cyprus strengthening the EU's ability to respond to global challenges. One doesn't have to go too global to understand Cyprus could play a significant role in future EU or NATO operations in the Middle East, Gulf, Africa or even the Caucasus.

The two also agreed to discuss potential disagreements over Turkey's accession before they got out of hand or mangled up in EU decision-making processes.

Brown seemed to like the new vibes emanating from Christofias. He pledged to play a “strong role” in efforts to solve the conflict. He also voiced his agreement with the idea of a solution “by Cypriots for Cypriots”.

The president stressed this last point later, noting that anyone trying to impose their will on Cypriots would fail.

Though no mention was made of changing the Treaty of Guarantee during the talks, it is clear a new era of co-operation and dialogue has been established where such matters of substance could be discussed in the future.

Christofias made it clear where he stood on the matter: “Cypriots are mature enough to handle their own affairs without guarantors and guarantees.”

Effectively, following some good PR work, Cyprus is no longer in the corner, taking swipes at the “evil demon”. Instead, a lot of effort has been made by both sides to provide key reassurances about the future of the island while paving the way for a European-style pursuance of loosely-joined common goals.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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