President Nicos Anastasiades has said that Cyprus and Russia wish to enhance their ties and cooperate even closer in an attempt to create conditions for peace and stability in many areas, adding that this cooperation will continue irrespective of reactions and concerns others may have.
President Anastasiades, who concludes his official visit to Russia on Saturday, met with St. Petersburg Vice Governor Alexander Govorunov.
He pointed out that the meeting Cyprus President had with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and the agreements signed show that both countries share the same objective to further enhance their relations.
Govorunov said that Cyprus is a popular tourist destination among Russians, adding that in 2014 tourists flying from St. Petersburg to various destinations recorded a decrease, whereas the number of tourists to Cyprus increased.
He described relations between Cyprus and St. Petersburg as traditional, expressing his gratitude for the stance Cyprus had in the EU on the issue of sanctions against Russia.
President Anastasiades in his statements expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he and his entourage enjoyed, adding that during the contacts he had with President Putin he thanked him for Russia`s long standing support to Cyprus and to Hellenism in general.
Once again the Cyprus President said that he is going to depart Russia with the deepest and most positive feelings, describing his visit as very successful. He said that the symbolism of his visit and the response of the Russian government sent a number of messages to all those who may have concerns and oppose relations between the two countries.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has commended the selflessness shown by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting that during consultations for bilateral agreements signed during his official visit this week to Russia, Putin did not ask for any concessions which could have created difficulties between Cyprus and its European partners or its transatlantic allies.
Speaking at a press conference at TASS news agency on Thursday, President Anastasiades also said that his official visit to Russia has been a complete success.
Replying to questions about his expressed position that sanctions are not helpful and that the crisis in the Ukraine should be resolved through diplomatic dialogue, he said that Cyprus does not find itself in conflict with its European partners. In the EU, he explained, democracy such as the right to speak and the right to have a dissenting opinion works perfectly well. The rule followed, he said, is that consultations take place and a mutually acceptable solution is found.
At the same time he pointed out that it is quite well known that Cyprus is not the only EU member state which has expressed concerns over the matter of sanctions against Russia. “Another group of member states also came forward”, he said, adding that if they had not expressed their difference of opinion to others who were categorical over the measures they believed should have been taken, then possibly sanctions would have been much stricter without yielding a result.
He reiterated his position that military measures and sanctions are not the answer in the Ukraine crisis but rather diplomatic dialogue, the respect of the territorial integrity and sovereign rights of every country and at the same time the respect of the human rights of all citizens.
President Anastasiades made it clear that his position is not against the Ukraine. Quite the opposite, he said, “we want to avoid a civil division”, adding that there should be talks to resolve the matter so that all Ukraine residents can feel that their human rights are protected.
This, he pointed out, “is my opinion as the leader of a state which has been under Turkish occupation since 1974.”
Replying to a question over an existing military agreement Cyprus and Russia revised this week, he said it is an old agreement which has been updated.
“It is now contractually provided that the Russian fleet will be able to use the facilities of the port of Limassol not just on the occasions that it did until today but also on other occasions which have to do with combating terrorism, drugs, smuggling and others,” he explained.
President Anastasiades expressed his full appreciation towards President Putin, who “being aware of the problems and sensitivities of many on Cyprus did not ask the slightest which could create difficulties for us with our partners or our transatlantic allies.”
Replying to a question as to what the military agreement will cost, he said that it will cost nothing.
Asked under what circumstances sanctions against Russia will be relaxed, he said the EU demands the implementation of the Minsk agreements. If a ceasefire is maintained and a dialogue starts in order to reach a solution, “then I am certain that no-one would want to see a continuation of the sanctions against Russia,” he added.
After their meeting, which took place in the framework of the Cypriot President`s official visit to Moscow, the President of Cyprus and the President of Russia signed the Joint Action Programme between the Republic of Cyprus and the Russian Federation for 2015-2017, which constitutes an umbrella document, covering numerous areas of the prolific cooperation between the two countries.
In the presence of the two Presidents, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of Finance of Cyprus and the Ministry of Education and Sciences of Russia for cooperation in the fields of research and technology.
Also, the Protocol of the 8th Cyprus-Russia Intergovernmental Committee for Economic Cooperation was signed, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministries of Defense of the two countries for cooperation in the naval field.
An agreement was also signed between the government of the Republic of Cyprus and the government of the Russian Federation on military cooperation. The agreement was signed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries, Ioannis Kasoulides and Sergei Lavrov.
Moreover, an Agreement was signed between the two countries for cooperation in the fight against the illegal movement of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, as well as an Agreement for cooperation on combating terrorism.
In addition, a Programme of Cooperation was signed between the two countries in the field of Sciences, Education and Culture for the period 2015-2018.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency and the corresponding organization of Russia.
Meanwhile, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (‘CySEC’) signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (‘MoU’) with the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (‘Bank of Russia’), following the transfer of the functions of the Federal Financial Markets Service (‘FFMS’) to the Bank of Russia, which now oversees and regulates both the banking and the securities sector.
The signing of the updated MoU aims to further strengthen ties and enhance cooperation between the two supervisory Authorities, aiming specifically to facilitate the exchange of information and the more effective investigation of potential violations of the legislation governing the securities market.
The Foreign Office in London has stressed the importance of maintaining EU unity against the course of action undertaken by Russia in Ukraine.
Asked by the Cyprus News Agency to comment on the agreement signed between Cyprus and Russia which allows Russian navy ships to use Cypriot ports, a Foreign Office spokesperson said that access to Cypriot ports is a matter for the Cypriot authorities. “But as the Cypriot President has made clear: ‘the use of Limassol port would not be for military purposes’,” they added.
A CNA source had commented earlier that the agreement is set in the context of the current concerns regarding Russian policy over Ukraine. The Foreign Office spokesperson noted that in the face of Russian aggression it is important to maintain EU unity. “We have been clear that as long as Russia continues to illegally destabilise a neighbour, it cannot be business as usual. That is why the UK has pushed for tough sanctions and they are working. Now is not the time to ease the pressure on Moscow.”
London considers a measure of Russia’s willingness to ease tensions its behaviour towards the agreement signed in Belarus aiming at ceasing fire in eastern Ukraine. The spokesperson described the fulfillment of “all of Russia’s commitments” under the Minsk Agreement as “imperative”.
“We and our EU partners have been clear that there needs to see actions not just words,” added the Foreign Office spokesperson.