While Turkey constantly expresses full support to the negotiating process on the Cyprus problem, it has not made until now any real steps demonstrating the sincerity of Turkish intentions, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Cyprus, Stanislav Osadchiy has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), expressing hope that “common sense will eventually prevail and Ankara in practice will prove that it really supports final and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.”
In an interview to CNA, Osadchiy also stressed that even without finding additional gas reserves in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone, its geographical position allows the island to claim one of the leading roles in the regional energy market, pointing out that “our side is considering participation in the energy projects, including not only traditional energy, but as well renewables.”
Moreover, Osadchiy pointed out in his interview that the fight against all forms of extremism and terrorism is one of the most important challenges the world community faces, and that Russia is determined to continue to eradicate the centers of terrorist threats in the region.
As regards the Middle East issue, he noted that “we actively work through the Middle East Quartet, which remains a unique generally recognized mechanism assisting the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in order to facilitate regional peace and stability and help build a democratic and prosperous Middle East”.
Asked if Russia shares the view that 2016 could be the year of the reunification of Cyprus, and how Moscow can, as a UN Security Council permanent member, contribute in a more concrete way to a settlement, Osadchiy stressed that “in our view, it is not the speed with which the settlement is going to be achieved,” pointing out that “you should give a lot of thought to the details of a difficult and important decision.”
He recalled that the Russian Federation, and the Soviet Union before, has always been concerned over the lack of a settlement. “It constantly advocated for the existence of the Republic of Cyprus, as an independent, sovereign, territorially integral and unified state, as well as for a comprehensive, just and durable solution of the Cyprus issue,” he noted.
Reiterating that Russia salutes the resumption of the inter-community dialogue in May 2015, “when the community leaders managed to revive hope for the reunification of the island,” he pointed out that “a settlement based on the principles of the international law and in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council is the only way to proceed. If it happens in 2016, we will definitely welcome this decision.”
He added that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, his country sees “as one of the main objectives for us and other external players in creating favorable conditions in order for both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities to achieve a lasting solution.”
“We are convinced that no one knows the Cyprus issue better than the Cypriots themselves do. It is of crucial importance that the communities develop the parameters of the settlement independently, without any interference or arbitration,” he stressed.
On Turkey’s role in efforts to reach a Cyprus solution, in compliance with the relevant UN resolutions and the EU values and principles, the Ambassador noted that the role of Turkey as a guarantor country in the process of solving the Cyprus issue cannot be denied.
“We hear that Turkey constantly expresses full support for the negotiation process. However, until now Ankara has not made any real steps demonstrating the sincerity of Turkish intentions,” he pointed out.
Turkey, he said, “ignores the ECHR judgment in the case of Cyprus against Turkey, refuses to comply with the Ankara Protocol with respect to the Republic of Cyprus, and continues the policy of assimilation of the territory of northern Cyprus.”
Asked how satisfied Russia is with its economic and trade relations with Cyprus, the Russian Ambassador said that the financial crisis in Cyprus “did not shake the firm basement of our partnership and we believe that together with the Cypriot authorities we will be able to overcome negative consequences and very soon we will witness upward trend in our trade and investments.”
The Ambassador said that cooperation between Russia and Cyprus has a very wide range for developing, recalling that “our firms and international companies with substantial Russian capital expressed interest in various projects in Cyprus, including privatizations of local governmental and semi-governmental companies.”
He said that “our side is considering participation in the energy projects, including not only traditional energy, but as well renewables. To my mind we have huge potential of cooperation in science and technology, multifunctional tourism, advanced manufacturing in medicine and agriculture.”
“I can enumerate many of perspective fields. The main idea is that there is and will be interest from our side and we hope that such undertakings will find support here in Cyprus,” the Ambassador noted.
“Our trade and economic cooperation is a reflection of close and longstanding ties of friendship between Russia and Cyprus,” Osadchiy said. He noted that “bilateral business relations have been actively developing starting from 1990s. For more than a quarter of a century Russians have become one of the leading and stable parts of the Cypriot society, contributing a lot to the well-being of the island. Key areas of our investments has been traditionally banking, services, tourism, construction, energy, trade, etc.”
He stressed that it is necessary to understand that severe consequences of the financial crisis in Cyprus in March 2013, existing EU sanctions against Russia, regional and global economic instability definitely created some additional practical problems for the Russian-Cypriot cooperation especially in the banking sector, “as a lot of our compatriots and companies had lost their money, which they deposited in the local banks.”
Invited to assess Cyprus’ position vis-à-vis Russia, following EU sanctions against Moscow, Osadchiy said that “initiated by Brussels and some Western countries as political pressure more than two years ago these restrictions have already proved their ineffectiveness. They not only failed to reach ambiguous goals, but also became harmful for the majority of EU states, unfortunately including Cyprus,” he added.
We highly appreciate, he added, “that your country was against embargoes and advocated finding political solutions at the negotiations table. It is important that this is the official and open position of your leadership, first of all personally President of the Republic of Cyprus H.E. Nicos Anastasiades.”
The Ambassador said it was a pity “that in the democratic Europe some countries can thrust their line and de facto ignore the opinion of others. I am sure that in the end those who refuse now to accept the real state of affairs will have to acknowledge their mistakes. But nobody can guarantee that the wasted years would be possible to make up for and there would be conditions for restoring past cooperation.”
To a question about a potential interest from Russian companies in securing license to undertake exploration and drilling operations in Cyprus` EEZ, Osadchiy said that the recent natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean are definitely to make a great contribution to the global energy security.
“Due to the current energy diplomacy in the region, Cyprus is on the successful way to become a gas exporter in the nearest future. We believe that even without finding additional gas reserves in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) its geographical position allows Cyprus to claim one of the leading roles in the regional energy market,” he added.
He noted that the Government of the Russian Federation, as well as the Russian energy companies, monitor the ongoing energy developments in the Republic of Cyprus very closely.
“The Cyprus Government recently announced the third energy-licensing round. Although we are not going to rush into any projects, we believe that Russian expertise in this field could significantly contribute to any energy related issue in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he added.
Asked about efforts by the international community to fight against terrorism, Osadchiy said that the fight against all forms of extremism and terrorism is one of the most important challenges the world community faces.
“Unfortunately, the efforts to address them are not always synchronized. Russia is determined to continue to eradicate the centers of terrorist threats in the region. We have always called for all parties concerned to do it jointly,” he noted.
For example, he said, “the operation of Russian aerospace forces in Syria is held in a very close coordination with the armed forces of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Governments of Iraq and Iran. Thanks to the coordinated work, we were able to create the conditions to launch full-scale process of dialogue in Syria, to ensure humanitarian access to many Syrian provinces and start with the return of the refugees.”
Osadchiy expressed confidence that this struggle would have been more successful if some countries didn’t make attempts to divide terrorists into “moderate” and “not very moderate”, would cease to supply thugs with weapons and money.
With regard to Syria`s government role in the fight against terrorism, he said that “we certainly consider it a very significant contribution. The Syrian army managed to clear a large area of ISIS militants and to release a large number of prisoners and take control of the former outposts of terrorists”.
Asked about Moscow’s moves to help resolve the Middle East issue, he noted that progress towards solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would reduce the level of the terrorist threat in the region, by weakening the extremists and decreasing the appeal of their ideology.
“Radicals are always trying to take advantage of the lack of dialogue. Unfortunately, they are achieving their goals: according to the recent opinion polls, the antagonism between the Palestinians and the Israelis is steadily growing,” he added.
Osadchiy said that isolated incidents occurring now and then in the West Bank and Jerusalem clearly demonstrate that the risks of further escalation remain very high.
“Russia certainly condemns any outbreaks of violence, regardless of their motivations. We have repeatedly called upon the parties to the conflict to show restraint and take measures to reduce tensions. In our contacts with our Palestinian and Israeli partners, we always emphasize the necessity to stabilize the situation and return to the negotiation table as soon as possible,” he told CNA.
Nonetheless, he added, “it is obvious that the calls for restraint and prudence will only be heard when political prospects become clear, in other words when there is an understanding that a mutually acceptable political settlement based on the relevant international decisions is possible.”
In this regard, he went on, “we actively work through the Middle East Quartet, which remains a unique generally recognized mechanism assisting the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in order to facilitate regional peace and stability and help build a democratic and prosperous Middle East”.
Moreover, he pointed out that close and mutually beneficial contacts of Nicosia with the leaders of both sides Israeli and Palestinians may be very useful as the additional facilitation of the peaceful process in this region.