Russia to open consulate in north

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The Foreign Ministry is looking into claims of a possible Russian presence in the Turkish-occupied north for the provision of consular assistance, its spokesperson Theodoros Gotsis said.

He told CNA that the investigation is being carried out in Nicosia and the Cyprus Embassy in Moscow.

On Wednesday, the Russian news agency TASS reported that Moscow would soon start providing consular services for Russian citizens living in the “northern part of Cyprus”.

TASS also quoted Russian Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Murat Zyazikov, saying the decision “is long overdue; it has no political overtones” and was “prompted solely by humanitarian considerations.”

The Russian official argued that the USA, UK, Germany, Italy and France provide similar consulate services in the non-government-controlled areas of the Republic.

On Russia’s approach to the Cyprus issue, the Ambassador told TASS that “it remains unchanged.”

Zyazikov said Russia “continues to adhere to a fundamental position, consistently advocating for a comprehensive, viable and fair settlement within the well-known international legal framework enshrined in [the relevant] UN Security Council resolutions.”

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar also confirmed that Russia “has begun taking steps to open an office. Britain already has an office; it’s not a problem for us if Russia does the same”.

“There are many Russians here, so it’s normal that they open an office,” Tatar told the Gundem Kibris newspaper.

Turkey maintains more than 35,000 troops in the north, which opposes the goal of President Nikos Christodoulides, who backs a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in line with the United Nations framework.

Negotiations to resolve the Cyprus conflict have been deadlocked since 2017.