Against the background of Cypriot civil society’s growing role since the early 2000s, this report aims to track the progress or lack thereof and identify the limitations and prospects of pro-peace grassroots mobilization in Cyprus. As such, it focuses on three contemporary case studies of pro-peace civil society in Cyprus: The Home for Cooperation, Cyprus Dialogue Forum and United Cyprus Now. Each case study provides a different perspective of pro-peace civil society mobilization. The Home for Cooperation is looked at as one of the older and main initiatives given that it functions as a meeting space that hosts other pro-peace civil society organizations and initiatives as well. The Cyprus Dialogue Forum is examined as probably the biggest, most ambitious and most structured platform of multi-segment intercommunal dialogue thus far. The Unite Cyprus Now initiative is quite different to the previous two in that it emerged rather spontaneously at the grassroots level, with extensive use of social media, and it still remains largely decentralized. Continue reading
The eastern Mediterranean has been attracting a lot of attention, especially since the early 2010s, mainly because of the natural resource discoveries and the changing interstate relations. I’ve been following these developments since the beginning with a number of opinion editorials in English and Greek. By 2013 my interest started turning into a small research project. The results were published in different – albeit thematically overlapping – papers over the course of 2015 and early 2016 (see below). Though I thought that the latest article would conclude this project, as I’m now turning my focus towards the “Islamic State”, Turkey and the Middle East, it’s likely that the ongoing rapid developments will lead to more research on this subject. Contact me for more information.
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
By Zenonas Tziarras* & Ioannis-Sotirios Ioannou**
The Coalition of Radical Left (Syriza) was the big winner of the Greek national elections of January 25, 2015, as expected. With 36.34% of the votes, Syriza and its leader (now Prime Minister) Alexis Tsipras won 149 seats, two seats shy of absolute majority. New Democracy, of now former Prime Minster Antonis Samaras, came second with 27.86% and 76 seats. Syriza chose to form a coalition government with Panos Kammenos’ populist and far-right (though often-referred to as center-right) Independent Greeks (ANEL), that won 13 seats with 4.8% of the votes. Not only that, but Tsipras appointed Kammenos as the new Minister of Defense. Although leftist Nikos Kotzias, Syriza’s new Foreign Minister, is more cool-headed and pragmatist, if assertive, than Kammenos, the Ministry of Defense plays an important role in security issues and Kammenos might adopt a harder line that could challenge Greece’s overall foreign policy with particular respect to relations with Turkey and Israel. Overall, these developments may signal a new approach in Greek foreign policy on issues ranging from the EU, to Russia and the Eastern Mediterranean. Continue reading
In October of last year, Russia, Israel and Cyprus conducted a joint naval exercise in waters of the Eastern Mediterranean. Though scheduled well in advance, the timing of the drill could not have been more opportune for Cyprus; the Barbaros, a Turkish seismic vessel dispatched by Ankara in order to survey the sea floor for hydrocarbons, had just entered the bitterly contested Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the two countries.
The affair triggered a flurry of diplomatic action. Israel called on Turkey to respect Cyprus’ right to explore for natural gas within its maritime boundaries, and Cyprus insisted that the vessel immediately withdraw. Not surprisingly, President Erdogan rebuffed these demands, and avowed that the Barbaroswould remain at sea until a distribution deal was reached for the riches beneath. Continue reading
In the previous article, it was argued that Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East “is obviously, yet tacitly, revisionist.” Specifically, examples such as the Syrian civil war were employed to highlight Turkey’s revisionist goals (i.e. regime change) and its efforts to rely on great powers (U.S. and NATO) in order to achieve them without getting too much involved.
Another region where one could observe a revisionist Turkish foreign policy behavior is the Eastern Mediterranean. There, Turkey is part of long-standing disputes which concern issues such as the delimitation of maritime borders, air-control spaces, and Muslim or Turkish minorities in Greece and Cyprus. More recently, Turkey has also had problems with Israel and Egypt. Continue reading