Shooting the UN sheriff

2 mins read

President Nicos Anastasiades had his last day in the sun at the UN General Assembly, where he asked a disingenuous valid question about whether the United Nations was fit for mandate.

Taking Cyprus as an example, he asked whether there was any validity in the international order as the island remained divided and occupied for 48 years without a hint of reprimanding the aggressor.

With Anastasiades coming to the curtain call of his two-term ten-year tenure, he could feel comfortable punching the international body on the nose, even though he must arguably share the blame for the tattered peace process.

There is no Cyprus peace process or even the slightest prospect of taking it out of the repair shop for one last spin in UN colours.

Five years buried under semantics, political shenanigans and diplomatic counter bluff, reunification talks are less likely than Putin surrendering his Ukraine folly.

But as a crafty bullet-dodging politician, Anastasiades took the podium at the UN in New York, knowing that public confidence in the institution’s ability to keep the peace was crumbling.

He asked why decisions of the Security Council remain bits of paper that countries like Turkey and Russia can ignore or tear up.

Why is international law not enforced or upheld in the case of Cyprus, Ukraine or anywhere else?

Turkey’s leader Erdogan strolled up to the UN stage and told the assembly to accept and “see the truth” about Cyprus.

The truth in his eyes was the partition of the island into two separate states – akin to the Russian playbook in Ukraine.

Anastasiades said it was “provocative” for Erdogan to convey the desire to resolve disputes “in conformity with international law” when he refuses to implement UN resolutions on the Cyprus Problem.

But Erdogan knows that playing peacemaker on Cyprus earns few political points, giving little leverage – unlike being the facilitator in Syria or Ukraine.

Our President also knows there is no chapter on compromise in the Cyprus problem diplomacy handbook.

Like many before, he has entered the arena of all-or-nothing, and the latter is what he is left with.

Do any Cypriots expect a last-minute cavalry charge from the UN to rescue the day?

The best that can be expected is moral support in carefully worded tweets.

Many would argue there is no world order or adherence to international norms.

While the Americans appear disinterested in being world policeman with one eye on Taiwan, authoritarian states are ready to chance their arm.

An emboldened Turkey has dabbled in bullying the Greeks, getting involved in Syria, warming to Israel and rewriting its Cyprus strategy.

Azerbaijan saw the Russians were busy and had a pop at Armenia; China is getting edgy about Taiwan while Iran wants to go nuclear – when it’s not killing women.

Not to mention other flashpoints across the globe the UN cannot contain.

And the President wanted to return to the UN to tell a different story, but the tune had not changed during his political life.

Like many other conflicts, Cyprus is a testament to missed opportunities, a lack of diplomatic courage, revisionism and failure to read the signs.

But Anastasiades – not one to be stained by responsibility – lambasted the UN’s “dismal lack of effectiveness” and “inability to fulfil the aims of its Charter”.

The UN has probably endured for so long because it seeks unanimity where the major powers have shared interests.

There is unilateral behaviour when it suits them and launching the veto game when it is unavoidable.

In an environment of seeking consensus, the UN has to soften its bite to achieve what it can when it can.

Cyprus needs to save itself; it cannot rely on a fractured international community to produce the cure – it tried once, and we shot the messenger.

Huge global issues are overwhelming the UN agenda, where a unity of action is necessary to save the planet.

Addressing the climate emergency is a priority, and preventing child starvation is another, not to mention tackling poverty, providing clean water and fighting disease.

Conflict only exacerbates these issues, but the world must find a way for long-term survival.

When entering the UN saloon, shaking your fist at the sheriff will not get you a drink at the bar but beware, the next town you ride into without a law officer.