November 19, 2018

Kyriacos Kouros’ Dutch experiences

Photography by Henry Arvidsson.

 

After having served for most of his diplomatic career in posts and functions in the East- Southern Mediterranean, being himself an eye witness of the launch of the “Arab Spring” phenomenon, the post in the Netherlands was quite a different experience. However, some historic developments did take place while serving in The Hague if we take as an example the fact that Dr Kyriacos Kouros had to the privilege to serve in a realm where a royal succession took place.

Dr Kouros began his mission as Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in June 2012, less than a month before Cyprus held the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for the first time since its EU accession in 2004. He had to learn fast the complicated structures of the international organizations, such as the OPCW, and Courts based in The Hague, since Cyprus had to coordinate its EU partners, in the absence of a representation of the then nascent European External Action Service in The Hague. During the second semester of 2012, the Embassy of Cyprus in The Hague successfully coordinated numerous EU meetings, drafted the EU statements and organized a number of events. Dr Kouros humorously referred to this period of the second half of 2012 as the “roller coaster” orientation trip.

However, the success of the Cypriot EU Presidency was unfortunately followed and partially overshadowed by the peak of the economic crisis in Cyprus in early 2013, with the Netherlands holding the Presidency of the Eurogroup. Ambassador Kouros strived to present the Cypriot positions to the Dutch decision makers, both at the Executive and the Legislative Branches, and to try and correct the omnipresent misconceptions about the Cypriot economy. The circumstances were very difficult and crucial. Today, more than two years later the economy of Cyprus is in a much better shape and all stakeholders, especially the international lenders, agree that Cyprus is emerging out of the recession and has returned to growth. Cyprus is a success story, Dijsselbloem says! 

During his tenure in the Netherlands, Ambassador Kouros actively promoted the bilateral relations of the two countries and significant number of bilateral visits were exchanged, including those of the (then) Minister  of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans and of Minister Dijsselbloem in Nicosia in January and March 2014 and the visit of H.E. Ankie Broekers-Knol in October 2014. On behalf of Cyprus, four at least Ministers paid working visits in the Netherlands including the Ministers of European Affairs, Energy, Industry, Commerce & Tourism, Communications & Works. The Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environment visited lastly the Netherlands and met also with Dutch counterparts and agreed on ways to further promote the bilateral cooperation. 

With the valuable support of his wife Vasso and the Embassy’s staff, Ambassador Kouros actively tried to promote Cypriot culture and history in the Netherlands and encouraged exhibition and events held in the Netherlands by Cypriot artists. In September 2013, the Netherlands returned to Cyprus four icons that were illegally smuggled from the occupied areas of the island, on the basis of 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Event of an Armed Conflict. The icons are being kept to the Byzantium Museum in Nicosia until a political settlement is reached on the island which will allow the artifacts together with the thousand others found to be returned to their place of origin.

As The Hague is host to many international and UN organizations and institutions it is a good diplomatic post to establish useful contacts and to represent one’s government in an effective way. Dr Kouros wants to believe that he managed to establish good contacts with the diplomatic and international community in The Hague and with many think tanks. Cyprus continued to actively participate in the International Organizations based in the city. In 2013-2014, Cyprus served as the host country of the support base of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission and offered infrastructure and facilities to other States which contributed to the destruction of the Syria’ s chemical weapons. It also hosted the OPCW 11th Regional Meeting of National Authorities of States Parties in Asia in May 2013.  In the International Criminal Court, Cyprus is an ad country co-focal point for the Plan of Action for the Universality and the Full Implementation of the Rome Statute since fall of 2013, in cooperation first with Japan and since January 2015 with Denmark.

As an Ambassador of a country which has a significant part of its territory under foreign military occupation, the top priority for Ambassador Kouros was to actively promote the positions of the Cypriot Government in its effort to end the occupation and reunite Cyprus and its people. At the same time he tried to study the achievements of the Dutch society in various fields in his bid to infuse some thinking back home. He consciously believes and supports the notion that people should adopt mentalities and practices that make our world a better place to be.

Before he joined the Diplomatic Service, Dr Kouros started his career as a journalist and a lecturer on issues of mass media and related legal affairs. Therefore he loves to write and that is why he enjoyed being a guest writer in Diplomat Magazine.

He and his wife Vasso will fondly remember The Netherlands as a country where the quality of life should always be cherished and considered a beacon for the rest of the civilized world.

But in his new role Dr Kouros is expected to see the audience of his writing skills significantly reduced. He was selected to play the role of a national security advisor by heading the Cypriot Intelligence Service and presiding over the newly established Councils of Geopolitical Affairs and Energy Politics, an important and crucial function in such a strategically situated country.

 

 

 

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