Russia angrily refutes reports of Moscow undermining Cyprus talks

Cyprus is a popular destination for Russia tourists [Georgi Gotev]

Russia’s Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov has reacted angrily to an article claiming that his country made efforts to spoil the Cyprus reunification deal, saying that attempts to shift the blame for the failure of talks are “both unfair and misleading”.

In a rare outburst against a media report, Chizhov, who speaks Greek and served as a diplomat in Cyprus in 1985 and then as Russian Special Representative for Cyprus from 1997-2000, published a “comment” on the Russian mission website and on social media.

“Anti-Russian hysteria is becoming contagious. Overzealous fighters of the (dis)information front are working day and night trying to implicate Russia in all sorts of problems, including those that are the direct result of shortsighted and arrogant policies of others”, Chizhov writes.

The Russian ambassador reacts to an article by Politico.eu, which quotes a source close to the President of Cyprus Nicos Anasatsiades, who said that the government was aware of “Russian activities” to spoil the reunification of the island.

“The fear on the Greek Cypriot side is that Moscow is using social and mass media, as well as ties to fringe nationalist political parties and the Greek Orthodox Church, to undermine the settlement talks,” Politico wrote.

The article said that Moscow had caused problems in the past, “trying to disrupt the only other chance Cyprus has ever had at reunification – a 2004 referendum on a UN-driven deal.

“That agreement failed because Greek Cypriots rejected it, but Russia also vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council on changes that would have taken effect if Cyprus had reunified, while the 14 other members voted in favour. It was Moscow’s first veto since 1994,” Politico reported.

The article was published on 12 January, the day when talks to resolve the decades-old division of Cyprus ended without agreement.

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“As somebody who has been dealing with the Cyprus problem for over 40 years now, […] I feel obliged to comment on the preposterous allegations in yesterday’s Politico Europe publication,” Chizhov wrote on 13 January.

The Russian diplomat said that Russia had supported a just and durable settlement of the Cyprus problem, and that that in May 1986 his country offered “a most comprehensive plan for a Cyprus solution”.

“I also remember that back in 2004, when Russia indeed applied a ‘technical’ veto on an ill-prepared UNSC resolution, both sides actually thanked Moscow for that gesture,” Chizhov writes.

Attempts to “shift the blame” for the lack of success in the efforts to settle the Cyprus problem are both unfair and misleading, he concluded.

Nicosia enjoys close relations with Moscow, which it views as an ally in the region. A sizeable Russian community lives on the Mediterranean island, where Russia makes up the second largest tourism market.

Cyprus is also a popular offshore tax haven for Russian businesses seeking protection from their country’s unpredictable investment climate.

Last July, the Cyprus parliament adopted a resolution calling on the government to work towards lifting European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

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Cyprus’ parliament yesterday (7 July) adopted a resolution calling on the government to work towards lifting European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine conflict, officials said.

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