The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, had a meeting yesterday with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr Sergey Lavrov, who is visiting Cyprus to attend the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 19 May 2017, under the Cypriot Chairmanship. Minister Lavrov will also be received by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, tomorrow.
The two Ministers had a private meeting, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lefkosia, followed by statements to the Press and a working lunch. During the meeting, the bilateral relations were discussed, as well as the relations of the EU with Russia. Special emphasis was given on the recent developments on the Cyprus problem and Cyprus’ energy programme, in the light of the Turkish aggressive policies.
Speaking to the media after the private meeting, Minister Kasoulides welcomed his Russian counterpart and his delegation to Cyprus.
On the Cyprus problem, the Mr Kasoulides had the opportunity to brief Mr Lavrov on the current state of the negotiations, also expressing Cyprus’ appreciation for the unremitting principled position of the Russian Federation. “We particularly highlighted that the United Nations Security Council has a crucial role, not only in endorsing a possible solution, but in taking those necessary decisions for its comprehensive implementation”, Minister Kasoulides said.
In addition, Cyprus’ Foreign Minister informed Minister Lavrov about the hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation programme of Cyprus. He also referred to “Turkey’s aggressive policies in the Eastern Mediterranean, which further complicate the efforts to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem”.
As regard the bilateral relations, the two Ministers evaluated their state and the collaboration of the two countries in various fields, venturing from the economic to the legal fields, as well as the cooperation in international fora.
Minister Kasoulides added that, during the working lunch, the two Ministers “will also push for the finalization of various agreements that are currently under negotiation, in order to broaden further the already wide legal framework of cooperation of our administrations, our economies and of our societies”.
Additionally, Ministers Kasoulides and Lavrov will discuss a number of global and regional issues of mutual concern. “We will talk about the situation in Ukraine and the necessity for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement and the continuation and intensification, if needed, of the work under the existing Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group”, Cyprus Minister underlined.
On the situation in Syria, Mr Kasoulides stressed that Cyprus, being the closest EU member state to Syria, would like to see a Syrian-led political transition process to establish a democratic, inclusive and representative Government by the Syrians, for the Syrians.
Last but not least, the issue of EU-Russia relations will be discussed during today’s deliberations, especially following the long-awaited visit of High Representative Mogherini to Moscow. “The current state of relations is beneficial to neither side and we hope that there will be enough progress to allow for the reevaluation of the situation and for constructive and mutually beneficial reengagement”, Minister Kasoulides pointed out.
On his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, speaking in Russian with interpretation in English, said that the deliberation with Minister Kasoulides were very useful. “Cyprus is our important, time-tested partner in Europe. Our relations rely on sincere feelings of friendship and affection between our nations and on cultural and spiritual closeness”, he highlighted.
He also expressed satisfaction on the level of the political dialogue between the two countries, stating that it was observed that in the last months bilateral trade has significantly picked up, despite the decrease of the last years.
Also, the cooperation of the two countries in international organizations was reviewed, as well as humanitarian and educational exchanges, which are very meaningful and rich in the agenda of the two Ministries and attract a lot of Russians and Cypriots.
On international matters, Minister Lavrov said that “the international challenge of terrorism calls for a joint unified agenda, instead of the confrontation policy chosen by several Western countries. The fight against terrorism calls for a settlement in the Middle East, in Northern Africa, and first and foremost in Syria”.
“We have reported to our Cypriot friends on Russian efforts in Geneva format, as well as on Astana format, with Turkey and Iran with the observation of the UN, the US and Jordan. We have a common opinion on the Ukrainian situation just as Mr Minister has said. We have one position that we need to thoroughly and fully implement. However, recent actions by the Ukrainian authorities show that it is either not willing or incapable of doing so. These actions show that the authorities are under significant pressure from the most radical parts of the society. What I mean here is the attacks on language minorities of the ethnicities living in Ukraine, blocking media and internet sources, as well as attacks on the church trying to interfere in church affairs”, the Russian Minister said. He further stated that the OSCE and the Minsk Contact Group efforts were discussed.
On the Cyprus problem, Minister Lavrov reiterated Russia’s commitment to a Cyprus settlement, a comprehensive, just, lasting and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, based on the UN Security Council Resolutions, as well as on the agreement of two communities.
Regarding the current state of Russia-EU relations, Minister Lavrov stressed that “this state is no cause for satisfaction. We are interested in bringing back this cooperation on track of equal rights, cooperation and mutual respect. And for that, what we have to have is Brussels stop having a one-way street game. Over 1,5 years ago, at the level our Presidents, we have transmitted to the European Commission our ideas on how we can bring back the relations and amend them. We have given these ideas on how we can promote cooperation between Euro-Asian Economic Commission and European Commission. We are still waiting for discussion of this document.
We have expressed our gratitude to our Cyprus friends that, within the EU, they are part of the group of countries that advocating coming out of this non-normal cooperation”.
Invited to say Moscow’s position on the fact that Turkish side insists on linking the energy developments in Cyprus’ coasts with the settlement talks on the island, with some even predict a confrontation if the Republic of Cyprus does not suspend its energy program, and how Russia could contribute to reinforcing stability in this already troubled region, the Russian Foreign Minister reiterated that “all such issues and debatable ideas should be discussed within the legal framework with the agreement of all stakeholders that fall in line with what I have already said. What we believe is that as in any such situations, there is a need for restraint for the threat of using force itself. And we do hope that all stakeholders will choose such a path”.
In a question whether he asked Mr Lavrov to convey any messages to Ankara with regards to this situation, Minister Kasoulides said that this issue came up in the first meeting with Minister Lavrov, adding that there is a common understanding that international law, the UN Convention for the Law of Sea, has to prevail in any circumstances.
Invited to We have from sources in Washington that there is initiative for Washington to create a sort of NATO lines among the Gulf Countries. What will it be your evaluation on the … of such endeavor?
Although we do have a negative attitude towards their idea, the international security challenges that pertain to all stakeholders be decided among the closed door of military political alliances. Right now there are a lot of speculations in the press on the content of the negotiations between the US President Donald Trump and his counterparts in the Middle East. When this event takes place we will have more clarity and then we can discuss it. We have a principled stance that these very complicated issues in the Middle East and the Northern Africa should be solved on the collective basis, with the involvement of all stakeholders without exclusion of anyone. Naturally, it is extremely important not to attempt to draw wedges between different countries in the region.
Invited to express his thoughts on the recent controversies surrounding the reported passing of classified information from the US authorities to the Russian authorities, and that it has been said that this has been wholly appropriate situation, and whether it is better that more information than less be shared in the fight against terrorism and in combating other international problems, the Minister of the Russian Federation replied: “President Putin expressed himself in this topic after the negotiations in Sotchy. Since you are raising this issue once again, I can say the following: I get a feeling that many US mass media use the principle used by the Soviet Union. There used to be a joke in the Soviet Union with a newspaper, “Pravda”, that is “truth” and “Izvestia”, and there were no “izvestia”, news, in there and in “Izvestia”, there was no “pravda”, truth. Truly, I get the impression that many US mass media are working in that way.
Now, as for the cracks of the matter, we do not comment on hear-saying, but we do read US newspapers and what we can get out of it is that the main accusation is focused on the following: According to these newspapers, the secret was revealed that terrorists are capable of stuffing laptops, all kind of electronic devices with untraceable explosive material. As far as I can recall, maybe one month or two months before, the Trump Administration had an official ban on laptop on airlines for seven Middle-Eastern countries and it was connected directly to the terrorist threat. So, if you are talking about that, I see no secret here”./IBNA