London, December 21, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Thanasis Gavos
The picture of Cyprus as a source of stability, namely as a security producer and as an initiator of regional synergies and bearer of EU values in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean, was drawn by the Republic’s High Commissioner in London in a rare lecture organised by a Turkish think-tank.
Speaking at the Centre for Turkish Studies, CEFTUS, in the UK Parliament at Westminster on the subject of ‘Cyprus, the EU and the Eastern Mediterranean’, Euripides Evriviades noted that “by virtue of Cyprus’s membership, the peace and stability that are the hallmark of the European Union are extending themselves in the strategic corner of the eastern Mediterranean.”
The Cypriot diplomat noted that the Eastern Mediterranean has been often identified with instability and tension, whereas now “it means the EU is an immediate neighbour; it means hydrocarbons and energy,” with Cyprus justifiably emerging as a credible, proven and a reliable partner for the EU.
Mr Evriviades referred, inter alia, to the key role that Cyprus has played in the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria; the evacuations of civilians from Lebanon; and to Nicosia’s steadfast contribution to the fight against ISIS “without hesitation and from day one.”
However, the High Commissioner stressed that all of the above would acquire their true significance once the divided island reunified. “We would reach our full potential as an EU member state, as security provider and as a country for our people, when we managed to clinch a deal,” he said. He stressed that Cyprus’s predictability and credibility as a EU security producer must also be guaranteed post solution of the Cyprus problem.
He expressed his “cautious optimism” over the reunification prospect, noting that while the past should not be ignored, the emphasis should be placed on the future. Concerning the current settlement talks, High Commissioner Evriviades said they are “moving very well” having reached “a really mature level”.
He attributed the positive climate partly to the disposition of Mustafa Akıncı, saying that “his selection as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community has done a lot to give impetus to the talks. Both leaders want the solution”, High Commissioner Evriviades emphasised. He did draw attention though to the fact that a few very important and difficult core issues remain to be agreed, regarding territory, property, refugees and security.
On the all-important issue of security, he stressed that the security issues and pertinent concerns cannot be solved through greater militarisation of the country, that the existing 1960 guarantees arrangement has historically failed the people, that is has been counterproductive, colonial and anachronistic; and that the EU provides adequate guarantee to all its members by virtue of membership in its legal and political institutions.
High Commissioner Evriviades noted that historically the pursuit of absolute security by one state breeds absolute insecurity in all the others, and therefore it produces conflicts and ultimately wars.
The membership of Cyprus in high power institutions like the EU and the Council of Europe addresses all concerns of EU citizens. “What is good for 27 member states of the EU must surely be good for the 28th “, said Evriviades.
Asked by the audience whether a solution would be reached in 2016, Mr Evriviades replied that timetables are not an end in themselves and they should be based on the progress achieved so that they do not give grounds for a blame game if a particular timetable is not met; but at the same time, he added, both sides are aware of the fact that they can’t go on negotiating for ever.