For many years, Cyprus’ attention was exclusively focused on the so called ‘Cyprus Problem’ that arose from the inter-ethnic tensions on the island in the 1960s and the division of the island in 1974. Even to this day, the main scope of cross-government planning has concentrated on the possibility of a crisis with Turkey.
However, following Cyprus’ accession to the EU in 2004, the Cypriot government started to change its focus as senior figures realised that Cyprus needed to become more outward-looking so as to avoid being seen as a ‘single-issue’ member state. The big transformation occurred in 2006, when an outbreak of fighting in Lebanon led to a massive influx of refugees into Cyprus (see, e.g., Zeno 2007). It was at that moment that both Cyprus and the European Union understood the significance of Cyprus’ location on the doorstep of the Middle East and North Africa.
Since then, considerable efforts have been made in Cyprus to plan for future crises of this kind using a whole-of-government approach (WGA). Indeed, crisis management has now emerged as a central plank of the island’s foreign and security policy. At the same time, in 2014, the European Union explicitly acknowledged Cyprus’ important role in assisting EU crisis-management efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean, when then-President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker appointed Christos Stylianides, a Cypriot, to be European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.