Cyprus less than impressed with Zelensky’s speech

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to Parliament has left a bitter aftertaste with the political establishment unhappy over his failure to mention the Turkish invasion.

His long-awaited historic address to the Cyprus Parliament was further dampened by the fact the live connection was lost midway through House Speaker Annita Demetriou’s response, just as she referred to the Turkish invasion.

Zelensky’s address took place on shaky ground after the main opposition party AKEL opted last minute not to attend the special House session.

It protested the Ukrainian President’s decision to address the Greek Parliament accompanied by a fighter of the far-right Azov Battalion.

What was expected to be a moment of solidarity turned sour, especially after President Nicos Anastasiades – who attended Thursday’s session – criticised the speech.

He did not hide his dissatisfaction over Zelensky’s omission to mention the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

“We are disturbed by the fact that there was no reference,” said Anastasiades after leaving Parliament.

“Of course, this should have been done. I want to be straightforward and categorical.

“We expected today to hear what the Ukrainian people are suffering now, what we ourselves also suffered in 1974.

“The rule of law does not distinguish between states, and the rights of some being violated, but the rights of others ignored,” said Anastasiades.

House President Demetriou on Friday said that the Ukrainian ambassador had been contacted over the issue.

Demetriou spoke after Zelensky’s address, and she referred to the Turkish invasion before communication ended.

The Ukrainian ambassador, Ruslan Nimchynskyi, reported that technical issues were at fault.

Furthermore, the political establishment expected the Ukrainian President to use the platform to condemn Turkey’s invasion and highlight how Cyprus has suffered from an aggressor.

Cyprus has bitten the bullet by signing up for severe sanctions against Moscow, with which it had historically warm ties.

Russia has since placed Cyprus on a list of “unfriendly” countries, with many fearing the economic repercussions such as the loss of Russian tourists, the country’s second-largest market.

Wealthy Russians

Zelensky urged Cyprus to pressure wealthy Russians.

“We call on you to close all your ports for Russian ships and yachts.”

He also called for an end to “privileges” afforded to Russian nationals, such as revoking Cypriot passports granted under the defunct citizenship for investment scheme.

Former justice minister Emily Yiolitis tweeted: “A call for an alliance with a sovereign state cannot be made to manage its internal affairs.

“Whom Cyprus naturalises, under what criteria and which passports it revokes is its own matter”.

Lawyer Christos Triantafyllides tweeted: “President Zelinsky, your speech at the House of Representatives of Cyprus left a lot to be desired.

“I do not mean as an actor but as a Politician. You asked for a lot but offered nothing.”

Opposition DIKO also expressed “great disappointment” at the failure of the Ukrainian President to mention the Turkish invasion.

“The Cypriot people, as victims of the Turkish atrocities of 1974 and as victims of invasion and occupation to this day, are perhaps the only Europeans who can really understand the consequences of this war,” DIKO said in a statement Friday.