Can Cyprus have a ‘national’ policy?

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EDITORIAL

Cyprus’ national and foreign policies have, over the decades, been unavoidably focused on one issue alone – the island’s continued occupation and division by Turkey and on efforts to get unstuck from this quagmire.
Although it would be unfair to compare Cyprus with “any other democratic country”, due to the political stalemate entrenched through Ankara’s military might, politicians and society in Cyprus need to look ahead to the day when stability returns to the island and determine its foreign and national policies.
Within that prism, Cypriots need to consider what its national interests are and how to protect them and achieve security for its people and its interests, either through a naturally defensive system or through a proactive diplomatic policy.
Joining the European Union has benefited us greatly on a community, social and economic level, but has failed to contribute effectively to finding a positive end to the political problem.
Wherever we turn to, we see a country’s national policy implemented by foreign policy, often safeguarded by a healthy balance between a democratic society and a military strength just enough to protect its borders or to act as a deterrent. Cyprus does not have such a luxury as any future solution, in particular under the guidance of the United Nations, foresees the downsizing of any military force on the island, even if it is a federal unit.
Is it time, then, to seriously consider joining military alliances such as NATO and weigh benefits against its disadvantages? If Turkey is allowed to continue to have a major say in that organisation, is there any other way to lure “traditional Turkish allies” to our camp through other means, while maintaining warm relations with old friends such as Russia and China, and perhaps even Iran and Syria?
The new administration that came to power earlier this year has tried to overcome many negatives that had placed Cyprus on the ‘bad boys’ side of the playing field, with many opportunities, be they political or economic, not coming our way. As regards the foreign and diplomatic team, the players are still young and inexperienced, as the Republic of Cyprus has only been around for almost five decades, having started from scratch and learning from mistakes along the way.
Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has been doing a good job of improving Cyprus’ image in the region and beyond, with the hope that former ties are revived despite this country’s small size and few offerings. However, with the right policy in place and some hard bargaining, national interests can be projected with Turkey’s departure from the island being the primary aim, but within a policy that would later continue for the benefit of all Cypriots.