Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues,
On behalf of the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs of the cceia of Nicosia, I welcome you to another timely and challenging international conference.
As Rector Emeritus of this new private cceia, I am pleased to see that Dr. Theophanous and his Center continue their contributions to Cypriot tertiary education and to Cypriot society. This research center, since its inception, has sponsored significant international conferences unrivaled by any other academic institution in Cyprus. For nearly fifteen years, these conferences have placed Intercollege, our founding institution, and Cyprus on the map.
Today’s conference addresses “Current Trends in International Relations.” It focuses on three areas of major international concern that have preoccupied both policy theorists and practitioners. Ethnic conflict, the role of the United States in the post-Bush era, and perhaps the most pressing of all contemporary issues that of the economic crisis facing the international system. The global economic meltdown of the past few months will preoccupy all major foreign governments for years to come. Years of deregulated domestic and global financial transactions are testing the foundations of the post-WWII economic order. In the meantime, the innocent victims of the global economic meltdown are feeling its consequences world wide.
Ethnic conflict has been on the international agenda since the end of WWII. Many of these conflicts have been complicated by the involvement of external actors who often justify their actions under the fig leaf of humanitarian intervention. Some of the many consequences of ethnic conflict have included the break-up of states and destabilizing border changes. Ethnic conflict, whether in Africa, Asia, or in the Balkans has also tested the effectiveness of international institutions and has given rise to new missions by organizations like NATO, the OAU, the UN and the EU. The innocent victims of civil conflict are adding to the ranks of refugees and the forcibly displaced persons seeking safety and new opportunities away from their home countries. Humanitarian organizations struggle to provide basic relief in places like Darfur because, despite international rhetoric, only limited humanitarian assistance reaches the victims of civil conflict. Key members of the international community often employ double standards in addressing the sources and the perpetrators of such conflicts. This raises questions about their real motives. States, like the United States, have often allowed their strategic interests to define their response to ethnic conflict.
Our host country has been one of the well known victims of externally orchestrated conflict. Britain’s divide and rule politics, coupled with American strategic interests in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, have contributed to a perpetuated conflict that violates all the principles on which the post-Cold War era is based. Key international actors conveniently present the Cyprus problem as a bi-communal problem in need of resolution through divisive consociational formulas. In reality, however, the Cyprus problem was and remains one of external interference, of invasion, occupation and continuing violations of internationally protected human rights. International organizations, as well as the European Court of Human Rights have conclusively determined the need for a solution that ends Turkey’s aggression against Cyprus and upholds the principles of international and European law. Otherwise, a solution that fails to address these issues will be either feasible or viable.
I look forward to the papers that will be presented in this conference and express my thanks to Dr. Theophanous and to the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs for their initiative to organize this event and for their hospitality.