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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 [ Spin and substance winners in Christofias’ London trip ]

Spin and substance winners in Christofias’ London trip

DEMETRIS Christofias could hardly have hoped for a better outcome to his visit to London this week. On spin and substance, the visit – at the invitation of Prime Minister Gordon Brown – was a resounding success.

The Cypriot President enjoyed hearty handshakes and smiles on the doorstep of Number 10; he received fulsome praise from the British Prime Minister, who hailed his “vision and political courage”; and he came home with a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding, which set the framework for a “new era” in relations with the island’s former colonial power, and, crucially for Christofias, spelled out Britain’s commitment not to support “any moves towards the partition of the island or the recognition or upgrading of any separate political entity”.

It’s a long way from the icy relationship in the days of Tassos Papadopoulos, of the snub to visiting Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the characterisation of Britain as our “evil demon” by none other than a certain Demetris Christofias, then President of the House of Representatives.

We won’t linger on the epiphany that has transformed Christofias from banana republic cheerleader to man of vision. The President himself discreetly alluded to the frustrations of the past, and we’ll leave it at that.

The fact is that the government’s new diplomatic approach is an impressive display of real politik. A source from the government’s entourage laid it out succinctly on Thursday: “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.”

This is the crux of the issue, a reality that successive Greek Cypriot leaders have so badly misunderstood. From Makarios’ flirtations with the Soviet Bloc and the Third World, to Papadopoulos’ mounting hysteria against the international community, our leaders have systematically alienated the very powers that called the shots in the region, with disastrous results.

Of course, Britain has strategic interests in Cyprus, and those do not always coincide with those of the Greek Cypriots. But let us not forget the tremendous ties that do bind the two countries, not least of which are the human ties represented by the substantial expatriate communities living in each other’s midst.

The best a small power can do is to seek points of convergence with the great power in order to advance its own interests. One thing is certain: sticking a finger at those powers will achieve nothing. Engaging with them on the other hand opens channels of communications that will bring results. Christofias has learned his lesson very well, overseeing the international rehabilitation of the Greek Cypriot community almost overnight. That can only be good news.



(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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