Analysis: NATO Membership for Cyprus. Yes, Cyprus

1 April 2019
198 Views

Fifteen years ago, NATO welcomed seven new members into the Alliance, expanding its borders eastward from the Baltic to Black Seas. As NATO reaches its seventieth birthday, it could now be time to look toward adding a new member: this time in the Eastern Mediterranean.

After the end of World War Two, policymakers in London and across the Atlantic worried the Cyprus problem could unravel the entire Eastern Mediterranean. Following independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, tensions on the Mediterranean island flared between the Greek and Turkish communities residing there, inflaming tensions between new NATO allies, Turkey and Greece. There was considerable concern in the West that a deterioration of the situation could leave the door open for the Soviets to gain a foothold in the Mediterranean basin.

In 1974, the Colonels’ Junta in Greece orchestrated the ouster of Greek Cypriot leader Patriarch Makarios III, prompting fears in Ankara that Athens was planning enosis, the union of Cyprus with Greece. In response, Turkish forces intervened immediately in 1974, landing more than 30,000 troops on the island before a ceasefire was declared three days later.

Forty-five years later, the island remains divided despite years of intense negotiation, close calls, and extensive international engagement. The United Nations peacekeeping force on the island remains the longest such deployed UN force.

With the end of the Cold War, the Eastern Mediterranean’s strategic value decreased, although lingering regional tensions remained. Over the last decade, however, the geopolitical situation in the region has changed materially, as Moscow has bolstered its position through its alliance with the brutal Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, rotating over 65,000 troops to the country and expanding its presence at Tartus, its only naval base on the Mediterranean. Moscow has now extended its access to Tartus by forty-nine years, gained access to other Syrian ports, and has indefinitely retained its presence at Hmeimim Air Base.

Furthermore, the waters around Cyprus have become a zone of concern regarding nonstate threats, including proliferation, organized crime, terrorism, human trafficking, and refugee flows. The divided island offers vulnerabilities that nefarious actors can exploit, as limited Cypriot security cooperation has led to unnecessary challenges. In 2014, Cypriot authorities scrambled to respond as an oil tanker hijacked by Libyan rebels headed toward the island. In a dramatic interdiction, US forces acted, supporting Cypriot authorities stretched beyond their means and limited by ad hoc measures.

You may be interested

Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi Cheese: An explosion of flavors and textures
GREECE
shares107 views
GREECE
shares107 views

Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi Cheese: An explosion of flavors and textures

Panos - Aug 23, 2019

Cheese lovers who haven’t tried halloumi, meet your new obsession. Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese originating in Cyprus. Made from…

The world’s tallest, and shortest countries are…
GREECE
shares73 views
GREECE
shares73 views

The world’s tallest, and shortest countries are…

Panos - Aug 23, 2019

Ever wondered which nationalities are the tallest? Or the shortest, for that matter? The interesting fact is that the top…

Central Council of Modern Monuments green lights Elliniko mixed-use project
FINANCE
shares39 views
FINANCE
shares39 views

Central Council of Modern Monuments green lights Elliniko mixed-use project

Panos - Aug 23, 2019

A day after the unanimous decision by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), which paved the way for the lifting of…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.