Cyprus Report


Main Actors

The main actors in the development of WGA policies have been the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of the Interior. At the core of these activities is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which houses the Crisis Management Department (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2017). This organisation acts as the hub for cross-governmental activities related to managing external crises. Formally speaking, the Republic of Cyprus is a presidential executive somewhat like the United States. Ultimate authority therefore rests with the president of the republic in his capacity as head of the Council of Ministers. In practice, however, the actual authority for managing a crisis tends to depend on the specific nature of the crisis. For example, in many cases, it is the foreign minister who takes responsibility for managing such crises. Nevertheless, it seems as though the other relevant ministers or the president would be able to step in and take the lead depending on the circumstances.
In addition to the three key ministries that are most closely involved in crisis management at present, other state actors are obviously key to the implementation of Cyprus’ WGA. Officially, Cyprus has 11 ministries. Other key ministries are likely to include: the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry; the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, which has oversight over airports and ports on the island; the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment; and the Ministry of Justice and Public Order. For example, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works is given direct responsibility for coordinating the following three plans: ‘Aristeas’, which deals with an interruption to communications and information networks; ‘Nikias’, which deals with a terrorist attack on civil aircraft in flight; and ‘Pindaros’, which deals with a shutdown of the main air- and seaports (cf. Liassides 2016 for a brief overview of Cyprus’ emergency plans). In addition, other key branches of the state are likely to be involved, including the country’s Central Intelligence Service (KYP). Although the parliament is not understood to have a direct role in immediate crisis management, it does play a part in the longer-term development of crisis-management capabilities.
In addition to the internal dimensions, it has been interesting to see how these crisis-management efforts have also shaped the country’s external relations. As noted, crisis management has become a central theme in Cypriot foreign policy. Cyprus works closely with its EU partners on developing its crisis-management capabilities, and has actively sought expertise- and knowledge-sharing opportunities. However, such capabilities have also become a key part of its wider regional relations with its neighbours, most notably Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. As part of a wider strategy of defence diplomacy, Cyprus has used crisis management as a way to strengthen its ties to these countries by engaging with them in crisis-management activities and exercises. This has been particularly beneficial, as it allows for foreign and defence cooperation to be enhanced in a way that is not deemed to be threatening or confrontational by other actors in the region, including by countries that Cyprus is working with but that do not necessarily have good relations with one another. This underlines once again just how central crisis management has become to Cyprus.
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