Russia ready to play peacemaker in East Med

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Moscow is prepared to help ease tensions in the eastern Mediterranean where Cyprus and Greece are embroiled in a standoff with Turkey over maritime and energy rights, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“We are monitoring the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean in terms of your (Cyprus) relations with Turkey,” Lavrov said Tuesday after meeting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

“We are ready to provide any assistance in developing a genuine dialogue towards mutually acceptable solutions,” he added.

Lavrov is in Nicosia to mark 60 years of Cyprus’ independence and bilateral relations with Russia.

But Russia’s top diplomat also used the occasion to take a swipe at US influence in the region calling it an “outside player”.

“There are other issues of concern to us about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean…such as the United States which is trying to create lines and contribute to conflicts rather than peaceful solutions,” Lavrov said.

“This is a really sad fact because in the Eastern Mediterranean other approaches are needed, peaceful ways of promoting interests.

Compromise, dialogue are the only solutions that can contribute to the peaceful resolution of any issue.”

Although Lavrov did not elaborate, the comments come after Washington partially lifted a 33-year arms embargo on Cyprus.

This is part of a wider Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act which promotes closer energy and security ties between Washington with Cyprus, Greece and Israel.

Under such a partnership America has encouraged Cyprus to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refuelling and servicing.

On August 10 Ankara deployed the Oruc Reis research vessel and an escorting flotilla of warships to disputed waters between Cyprus and the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Crete.

EU colleagues Nicosia and Athens have condemned Turkey’s actions as a violation of their sovereignty and pressured Brussels to take a tougher stance.

Both Greece and Turkey have staged naval drills in the area to assert their sovereign claims and the European Union has warned Ankara to pull back or face EU sanctions.