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Cyprus ready to help EU ‘fill E. Mediterranean power vacuum’ amid alleged US disengagement

Cyprus ready to help EU ‘fill E. Mediterranean power vacuum’ amid alleged US disengagement

The European Union must do more to fill a power void in the eastern Mediterranean brought on by a perceived US disengagement from the region, Cyprus’ foreign minister said on Wednesday. The island nation is ready to host an EU task force to achieve that goal, AP quoted Nikos Christodoulides as saying.

The EU has so far failed to use its ample “soft power” to position itself as the leading player in a region fraught with problems such as terrorism and illegal immigration, the minister said.

The bloc should pursue a more muscular policy, with a larger military footprint in the region, the diplomat noted, lauding France for supporting this line. French President Emmanuel Macron is organizing a summit of the EU’s seven Mediterranean nations on September 10 to discuss developments in the eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus can act as a base of operations for the EU’s humanitarian and other missions. The island is 180km (120 miles) away from Lebanon and could serve as the EU’s hub for delivering assistance in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly blast in Beirut, Christodoulides also said.