By Dr. Andrestinos N. Papadopoulos, Ambassador a.h.
In an article which appeared in the newspaper “Politis” of July 13, the President of the House of Representatives, Mr Yiannakis Omerou, reflected the warm climate which prevailed during the recent visit of our parliamentary delegation to Moscow and gave concrete examples of Russia’s solidarity with Cyprus. Taking the cue from this article, I would like to stress the importance of our relations with Russia and make reference to policies, fields of co-operation and initiatives which greatly contributed to the consolidation of friendly and close relations between our two countries.
In the first place, the unconditional support of Russia to the struggle of Cyprus for a just and viable solution of its problem is of paramount importance. As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia has exercised its balancing role in favour of Cyprus, as it has done on all aspects of the Cyprus problem (refugees, missing persons, human rights, withdrawal of foreign troops, etc.) The existence of excellent bilateral relations is confirmed by contacts at the highest level. Past Presidents of Cyprus visited Moscow, whereas a landmark in the relations between Russia and Cyprus was the visit of President Medvedev to Cyprus in October 2010, the first of its kind. Its political importance was great, because it underlined the statehood of Cyprus and was seen as a gesture of the first magnitude for the promotion of closer relations of friendship and co-operation between the two peoples.
The co-operation of the two countries covers a variety of fields: commerce, banking, tourism, culture, defence, law, medicine, agriculture, church, local authorities, mass media, telecommunications, etc. This co-operation is based on a series of bilateral agreements and is promoted through ministerial visits. At the parliamentary level, the Groups of friendship in the Russian Duma and the Cyprus House of Representatives work quietly for the strengthening of their mutual relations, corroborated by the exchange of visits by the Presidents of the Duma and the House of Representatives of Cyprus.
As far as the Russian initiatives are concerned, mention should be made of the proposal by the USSR of January 21, 1986, for the principles of settling the Cyprus problem and ways of achieving it, including the convocation of a representative international conference within the framework of the U.N. Also, a proposal by the Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov of April 1996 for the establishment of a contact group, comprising the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and a representative of the European Union, with a view to co-ordinating the various initiatives. It is, also, worthwhile mentioning the statement by the State Duma of October 1996 aiming at supporting the proposal by President Clerides for the demilitarisation of Cyprus. A relevant proposal was made by Russia, in April 1998, to the U.N. Security Council for the definition of basic principles and measures for the implementation of the various stages of demilitarisation.
The interest of Russia in Cyprus should be seen within its general interest in the security and stability of the Middle East, where the rivalry of different forces is influencing the political, economic and military data of the region. Within this framework, the growing uncertainty over the future of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and that of the Russian naval facility at Tartus explains the request for facilities to use the port of Limassol for the refuelling of Russian warships and the “Andreas Papandreou” airbase in Paphos for the landing of its military planes, according to existing concrete procedures. This was made crystal clear by the Russian Ambassador Vyacheslav Shumskiy in his interview to Sigma. As the Ambassador is leaving Cyprus after five years of productive service, special tribute should be paid to his untiring efforts to promote our bilateral relations and his contribution of value, during difficult times, towards strengthening these relations, through mutual understanding and co-operation.
Concluding, we observe that Russia’s constant and sincere friendship offers Cyprus an advantage to its present struggle and its future plans, since Russia is a big power and has the ambition to play a leading role not only in our region, but internationally as well.
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE