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NICOSIA, December 19. /TASS/. The European Union is changing its approach to the sanctions against Russia which Cyprus has always decisively opposed, the foreign minister of the Republic of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, said in an exclusive interview with TASS on Friday.
“Cyprus was always very careful and reluctant of the use of the sanctions. We have never been happy with this policy and we have said it so — it is wrong. Perhaps we are paying now the price as you know Ukraine is threatening to cancel the double taxation agreement we have with them,” Kasoulides said.
“The sanctions do not hurt only Russia, they hurt ourselves. That has been always our position,” Kasoulides said.
“A consensus has always been reached (in the EU) after our contribution in restraining the sanctions. For instance, it is after our own insistence that subsidiaries of big state banks in Russia within the European Union countries should be excluded and they have been excluded,” he said.
Speaking on Russia’s plans to create a gas hub on the Turkish-Greek border, Kasoulides said Nicosia does not view relations between the countries as “a zero sum game.”
“The decision of President Putin to abandon the South Stream is understandable for us. The intention to bring a pipeline through Turkey is fully respected and doesn’t concern us because we don’t get provisions for gas or oil through Turkey,” he said.
The new gas distributing hub will replace the South Stream project, which Russia scrapped earlier this month citing the EU’s unconstructive approach. Under the new project, Turkey may become a major intermediary supplying the Russian natural gas. The construction will make it possible to nullify risks related to transit of the Russian gas via Ukraine, Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller said.