Marios Stavrou, who joined the Foreign Ministry in June 2019, writes about his early experiences in the Diplomatic Service of Cyprus
Moscow, 26 February 2021
This is the title of a book I was fortunate enough to read a few years back.
Its author, Alexis Ad. Kyrou, of Cypriot origin, was one of the most prominent diplomats in the history of the modern Greek State. Widely acknowledged for his crucial role after the Second World War in the internationalization of the Cyprus problem, of which he was an ardent proponent. The constant struggle for balance between the needs of pragmatism and idealism was a staple in his political perspective. An overall intriguing and ecnahnting personality, Alexis Kyrou, was one of my main inspirations and a source of motivation for me in commiting to the goal of achieving entry the Diplomatic Dervice of the Republic of Cyprus.
Following two years of preparation, I reached this goal in June 2019 and the dream finally became reality.
Having concluded an interesting, yet short and intensive, training course for newly-recruited Attachés ― one soon realizes how imperative it is to establish a diplomatic academy after that ― I was assigned duties in one of the Departments of the Political Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There, I started working along excellent colleagues, who were eager to pass on their experiences and knowledge, and were always willing to offer me help and support, thus, the process of adapting to the new work environment did not take long.
It did not take long either to come to the realization that the resources of the Service, mostly in terms of personnel, are quite limited. This reality is unfortunately in sharp contrast with the workload that the Diplomatic Service of the Republic of Cyprus has to deal with, especially taking into consideration the ever growing needs and aspirations of its foreign policy. Every cloud has a silver lining, in the sense that almost all diplomats, whether serving at headquarters or in Diplomatic Missions abroad, are need to engage in a wide range of issues. From the perspective of the individual, this is as educational as it is strenuous. Increasing the human capital of the Diplomatic Service is a goal for the Ministry’s hierarchy, a standing request of all colleagues and an urgent need in order to ensure effective safeguarding of Cyprus’ interests in the future.
From the very first months following the assumption of my duties and due to the nature of the tasks assigned to me, being present in person and participating in working groups of the Council of the EU was required. As a result, I was given the opportunity to get to know, albeit briefly, the "wonderland" of Brussels. This experience may have been brief but it was a great lesson in grasping both the paramount importance of our country's participation in the EU, as well as the prospects and the obstacles that lie in the way of a small State, in the process of formulating and finally taking decisions.
Another extremely valuable experience during my brief diplomatic service to date, came through my active involvement in the operations of the National Crisis Management Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With the outbreak of the pandemic crisis and the dramatic restrictions in air travel that followed, the Ministry was called upon to undertake the demanding task of repatriation of thousands of Cypriot citizens, as well as other lawful residents, who had been stranded abroad. The repatriation process was completed within about three months. During this period the Ministry staff who took part in the efforts in cooperation with the Diplomatic Missions of Cyprus around the world, with limited resources at their disposal, put their heart and soul, without exagerration, in this task. Putting their own families aside, they worked day and night, to reunite the families of many other fellow citizens. This effort, in addition to demonstrating the power of a team when driven by a common goal, on a personal level created bonds between the colleagues that will last forever.
After almost a year of working at the Foreign Ministry, came my the first posting abroad, to the Embassy of Cyprus in Moscow. The professional experience I gained so far in the Russian capital is substantial. Even in the midst of the pandemic, where meetings in physical presence between diplomats are limited, I had the unique opportunity to understand and find out why this city is considered among colleagues to be a “diplomatic school”. I hope that with the end of the global health crisis, we shall have the chance for even more productive work, given the diplomatic challenges and the opportunities that open up for Cyprus.
In conclusion, and returning to the admittedly somewhat dilatory title of this article, through my brief, so far, career in the Diplomatic Service the experiences I have gained are overall positive and I am optimistic that with the resolution of long-standing issues, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus with its current staff and new recruits that will join in the coming years, will be able to carry out its mission even more effectively, continuing to promote decisively our country’s interests.