Cyprus and its emergence as a strategic partner and diplomatic link in the Mediterranean, as well as the issue the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island, was the main issue discussed in Washington, DC on Monday, in the context of the 5th Forum for Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, at the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

The discussion was co-organized by Kathimerini English Edition, the Delphi Economic Forum, and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and moderated by the executive director of HALC, Endy Zemenides. The speakers were Michael Rubin, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Evangelos Savva, Ambassador of Cyprus to the US, Nicolas Kyriakides, Founder of Cyprus Forum, and Alan Makovsky, Senior Fellow at the American Progress think tank.

The panel focused on the development of the relationship between Cyprus and the US, the relations between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, the prominence of the Cyprus issue, but also the strategic importance of the country as a partner in the region.

Discussions took place on the first day of the Forum at other Washington-based think tanks.

Michael Rubin, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, highlighted the importance of the current juncture that involves the recent centenary anniversary of modern Turkey and the 50 years since the Turkish occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, as it provides a rare opportunity to review the mistakes of past policy and approach the Turkish question in the Eastern Mediterranean in a new way. Rubin said that “Turkey has opened the door to revisions,” but such revisions do not have to continue, and that the complicated and short-term compromises of the Henry Kissinger era must be eliminated and there must be moral clarity. “There can be peace and prosperity for all the states of the Eastern Mediterranean only when they abide by international law and live peacefully both inside and outside their borders,” he said, adding that “there can be no compromise” on the fundamental demand that Turkey end its occupation of every part of Cyprus.

The Cypriot Ambassador to the US, Evangelos Savva, said he was pleased that the Cyprus issue took center stage at the Forum, noting that many interesting questions were raised about “how we can involve the US more, but also the European Union in the efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.” Much has also been said about the necessity on both the US and Greek sides to create a strategy for the Eastern Mediterranean, which will facilitate the efforts everyone is making in the region for peace, security and stability, he continued. “All of this assumes of course that we are bound by international law and this must apply to everyone in the region,” Savva said, noting that the important thing that comes out clearly from the discussion is that “we need the active involvement of all the ‘big players’ in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Cyprus in particular.”

Alan Makovsky, Senior Fellow at the American Progress think tank, expressed the opinion that, for decades, when people in Washington referring to Cyprus, they only thought of the Cyprus issue. Today, Cyprus is considered much more strategically, especially through the East Med Act, he said. Makovsky stressed the importance of strengthening the 3+1 cooperation schemes between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the US, while emphasizing that, in this way, effective pressure is indirectly exerted on Ankara. He also pointed out that among the reasons that Cyprus started not to be treated on a single-issue basis were natural gas, the restructuring of its relationship with Israel, its accession to the EU and the change in its relationship with Russia, but also Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attitude regarding his country’s relationship with Russia. Finally, he noted that we should see Cyprus more as a strategic solution and at the same time move away from seeing Cyprus as a “problem.”
Nicolas Kyriakides, Founder of Cyprus Forum, spoke about the next generation’s view on the Cyprus issue and finding solutions. He said that Cyprus should be discussed more often and especially in Washington and that it is an open issue that one cannot ignore. He said that there must be a strategy for the Eastern Mediterranean “so that we know where we are going,” while at the same time, the realities must be taken into account – i.e. what the citizens, Greek and Turkish Cypriots want.

Source: https://www.ekathimerini.com/news/1231559/cyprus-takes-center-stage-at-the-5th-forum-for-southeast-europe-east-med-forum/