Talk (Video & Text) delivered at the conference “EU Foreign Policy and Humanitarian Aid: Developments in the Middle East”, on October 16, 2015. Organized by The European Parliament Offices in Cyprus & Greece, The Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus & the Diplomatic Academy of the University of Nicosia.
A lot can be said and speculated about the roots and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh. It is, however, undeniable that its military advances and territorial gains in Iraq and Syria have had a great impact on the politics of the greater Middle East and beyond. Its presence, operations and organizational character have changed the geo-political landscape of the region and the strategic calculations of many states around it and across the world. At the same time it gave new meaning and significance to transnational asymmetrical security threats. Continue reading →
On Sunday, July 5, 2015, the Greek people gave a clear ‘No’ to a proposed bailout deal by the Troika (the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank). Though the national referendum was specifically about the Troika’s proposed plan, both Greek and European leaders and the media transformed it into a vote on Greece’s participation in the Eurozone and ultimately the European Union. The Syriza-led government vocally supported the ‘No’ vote, arguing that the position would provide Greece with the leverage to negotiate a better deal with the creditors. Traditionalist center and right-wing parties supported the ‘Yes’ vote, voicing concerns that a rejection of the Troika deal would lead Greece to default, a return to drachma (Greece’s pre-Euro national currency), an exit from the EU, and eventually international isolation.Continue reading →
Over the past ten years or so the foreign policy of Cyprus, more specifically the Republic of Cyprus, has improved significantly in that it has started, despite some persisting problems and dilemmas, to realize and utilize the island’s geostrategic role. To this emerging reality contributed three main factors: i) the maturing of the country’s political elites; ii) Turkey’s increasing self-aggrandizement and destabilizing foreign policy which led it to multiple diplomatic and strategic dead-ends; and iii) Cyprus’ delimitation of its maritime Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel and the discovery of hydrocarbons within it. Continue reading →
It has been over 50 years since Turkey expressed its interest in accession to the European Communities; thus far the EU’s longest application process. The cooperation with western organizations and institutions has always been an integral part of Turkey’s policy and Kemal’s idea of a secular and democratic Republic since the beginning of 20th century. However, Turkey began to adopt a less pro-Western political stance following the Cuba Missile Crisis (where Turkish territory was put under risk of Soviet bombing since it had American missiles on its soil), and the hostile American response to the Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1964.
After the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union into numerous independent nation-states, the E.U modified its accession criteria in Copenhagen in 1993, further setting the bar higher for Turkey. Yet in 1995 the customs union between Turkey and E.U was completed and came into effect in 1996. In December of 2004 the E.U leaders decided that the 2 years (2001-2003) reform process which took place in Turkey was enough to open the negotiations process for accession on Oct. 3, 2005. Continue reading →