Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades’ visit to Moscow – th­e­ses and an­tithe­ses

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

If we take into ac­count the com­ment and re­ac­tions gen­er­ated by the visit of Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades to Moscow, the first of an EU leader while the cri­sis in Ukraine con­tin­ues, it will be characterised as very suc­cess­ful. It proved, de­spite var­i­ous chal­lenges, the re­silience of the tra­di­tion­ally friendly re­la­tions be­tween Cyprus and Rus­sia and the strong po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment to strengthen and deepen th­ese re­la­tions in a va­ri­ety of fields.

The U.S. and the U.K., in view of the Ukrainian cri­sis, re­acted, the first ex­press­ing com­plaints over the tim­ing of the visit, and the sec­ond con­cern over a deal that for­malised the use of Cypriot ports by the Rus­sian navy, although later on, Min­is­ter for Europe David Lid­ing­ton tried to play down crit­i­cism of the visit.

The ar­gu­ment was that the im­por­tance of unity and of press­ing Rus­sia was jeop­ar­dised. An­tithe­sis to this the­sis is that Turkey, a NATO mem­ber and EU can­di­date, does not ap­ply sanc­tions against Rus­sia and re­ceived Pres­i­dent Putin in Ankara, as Hun­gary did in Bu­dapest, with­out any re­ac­tion ei­ther from the U.S. or the EU. How­ever, Turkey’s in­va­sion of Cyprus and vi­o­la­tion of its EEZ are not a mat­ter of con­cern!

Within the frame­work of the th­e­ses and an­tithe­ses pro­jected by the Pres­i­dent’s visit to Moscow, the fol­low­ing are of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est:

In the first place, the re­la­tions be­tween the EU and Rus­sia ac­quire, at this stage, a par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance. In con­trast to the pol­icy of sanc­tions, Cyprus sup­ported con­struc­tive dia­logue and milder sanc­tions. Cyprus’ voice in the EU had a bal­anc­ing ef­fect and its in­volve­ment in the ef­forts to con­tain the Ukrainian cri­sis was very much ap­pre­ci­ated by Pres­i­dent Putin.

Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades ex­pressed the po­si­tion of the EU and con­veyed mes­sages from France and Ger­many, thus con­cur­ring with the Franco-Ger­man open­ing to­wards Rus­sia. The tele­phone call to Chan­cel­lor Merkel af­ter his re­turn to Cyprus, tes­ti­fies to the fact.

The geo­graphic po­si­tion of Cyprus and the par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est of Rus­sia in the eastern Mediter­ranean, as wit­nessed by its naval base in Tar­tus (Syria), put for­ward an­other is­sue con­ducive to co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries, with a view to solv­ing the prob­lems of the re­gion through diplo­macy and ne­go­ti­a­tions. The role of Cyprus in the sta­bil­ity of the eastern Mediter­ranean is con­firmed by the ex­cel­lent re­la­tions it en­ter­tains with all the coun­tries of the re­gion, and the fact that it can serve as a bridge be­tween Europe, North Africa and the Mid­dle East. A good ex­am­ple is the tri­par­tite co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Cyprus, Egypt and Greece which re­sulted in the “Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion” of Novem­ber 2014. At this time of up­heaval in the re­gion, the sign­ing of a se­ries of agree­ments be­tween Rus­sia and Egypt of­fers yet an­other frame­work of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Cyprus and Rus­sia, so as to ful­fil the vi­sion of sta­bil­ity, peace and pros­per­ity in the eastern Mediter­ranean.

The an­tithe­sis comes again from Turkey, which on the ba­sis of the Neo-Ot­toman dogma of Davu­to­glu as­pires to dom­i­nate the eastern Mediter­ranean, vi­o­lat­ing ev­ery prin­ci­ple of in­ter­na­tional law.

As far as the Cyprus prob­lem is con­cerned, Rus­sia played, and can still play, an ac­tive role. It has al­ways sup­ported the ef­forts to solve the Cyprus prob­lem on the ba­sis of in­ter­na­tional law, the UN Char­ter and the res­o­lu­tions of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. The good Putin-Er­do­gan re­la­tions prompted Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades to ask the Rus­sian Pres­i­dent to con­vey to Turkey those mes­sages which will help to re­vive the in­ter-communal ne­go­ti­a­tions and their suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion. This, how­ever, does not pro­hibit Cyprus to con­tinue ask­ing its “strate­gic part­ner”, the USA, to in­ter­vene in the di­rec­tion of Turkey with a view to chang­ing its neg­a­tive stand on the Cyprus prob­lem. In this con­nec­tion, it should be men­tioned that Rus­sia did not com­plain for hav­ing our re­la­tions with the U.S. up­graded.

Fi­nally, the sign­ing of 11 agree­ments re­lat­ing to im­por­tant is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est proves the ex­is­tence of po­lit­i­cal will to fur­ther strengthen the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, which are not di­rected against any third coun­try.

The out­come of our friendly re­la­tions with Moscow is the re­struc­tur­ing of the 2.5 bil­lion euro loan with favourable terms and the per­spec­tives of a more en­ter­pris­ing co­op­er­a­tion in the field of en­ergy. The po­lit­i­cal mean­ing of the sign­ing of th­ese agree­ments is that it con­firms the state­hood of the Repub­lic of Cyprus, which by con­trast is not recog­nised by Turkey. This point has been taken up by Eroglu who rushed to state that the agree­ments are not bind­ing for the Turk­ish Cypri­ots.

In view of the above, the con­clu­sion is that the visit of Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades to Moscow was a re­sound­ing suc­cess, and by its sub­stance cre­ated the po­lit­i­cal frame­work within which the fur­ther strength­en­ing and deep­en­ing of the Cyprus-Rus­sia re­la­tions will be sought, de­spite the re­ac­tion of third par­ties and their ef­forts to iso­late Moscow. On the ba­sis of rec­i­proc­ity, Cyprus does not for­get and in need is a friend in­deed.

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