Inevitably the prospect of a new US administration has global implications. Given the new international environment (i.e. terrorism, Iraq, the tense US-Iran relations, ethnic conflicts and in particular the recent developments in the Caucasus, the international socioeconomic crisis), the world paid greater attention to this presidential election.
Barrack Obama’s triumph opens a new chapter in American and world history. Historically ethnonationalist considerations played an important role in national and international politics. And they will continue to do so. Obama’s victory, however, signifies the triumph of politics over ethnonational and ethnoracial pillars and considerations. This is a most promising development.
The EU expects a new beginning in its relations with the US and a new, joint vision. In our globalized world, challenges such as the environment, terrorism, socioeconomic instability and ethnic conflict, require multilateral and collective approaches. Τhe new US administration is expected to embark on a new approach leaving behind its deadlocked unilateralism. This new approach in Euro-Atlantic relations should begin with closer consultation between the two sides before serious decisions are made. For the effective implementation of this process it will, however, become increasingly necessary for the EU to speak with one voice.
The US could also reassess its approach toward the Middle East given that this region may generate further destabilization. The prevailing perception is that US policy in the area is not even handed. And the strong anti-American feelings tend to, over time, also become anti-Western feelings. The implication is that Europe tends to share the costs of such perceptions. Already President–elect Obama has indicated that US strategy in the broader region should be reevaluated. If this is also associated with constructive cooperation between the US and the EU it will lead to fruitful results.
There is another issue of great significance. In various ethnic conflicts the positions adopted by many members of the UN Security Council are not consistent. For example, the US called for the respect of the territorial integrity of Georgia while in the case of Kosovo its policy had/has been contradictory. Russia’s policies in relation to Kosovo and the two provinces in Georgia, S. Ossetia and Abkhazia, are contradictory too. And there is no consistency in relation to Turkey’s policy over Cyprus and its own Kurdish minority as well as the Kurds in northern Iraq.
Outside the EU-US relations, Cyprus' bilateral relations with the US are satisfactory with cooperation in counter-terrorism, overall law enforcement and increasing trade. The US acknowledged Cyprus' role and humanitarian assistance during the Lebanon crisis of 2006. But the defining aspect of the relationship in the US' position on the Cyprus problem, a position seen in Nicosia as shaped not by the US' adherence to the principles and values it espouses but by its traditional strategic relations with Turkey. Would President Obama make a difference?
We need a new approach. The regional and the global challenges necessitate a credible and effective UN which itself requires restructuring and a redefinition of its role to suit the new world order. The US must take an initiative toward this direction. Even before the elections several leading personalities – including from Republican quarters – had advocated that principles should be re-incorporated into American foreign policy. President-elect Obama will have a rare opportunity to make a new start for the US in a world that is eager for a principled leadership and for collective solutions.