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Lavrov to discuss restoring trade turnover, relations with EU and Syria in Cyprus

December 02, 2015, 3:23 UTC+3 NICOSIA

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the positions of Russia and Cyprus are close on many issues

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© Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

NICOSIA, December 2. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will pay an official visit to Cyprus on Tuesday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov will hold meetings with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulidis, Chairman of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou and Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus Chrysostomos II.

Among key topics on the agenda will be bilateral relations between Moscow and Nicosia, situation in Syria, Russian-EU economic ties, as well as prospects of the Cyprus settlement.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the positions of Russia and Cyprus are close on many issues. "Nicosia immediately and with full understanding of the Russian position reacted to the situation connected with the destruction of the Russian plane by Turkish aviation," the foreign ministry noted.

From Syria to EU

The broadness of the agenda is defined significantly by the geographical location of Cyprus - it is part of the European Union but is located in East Mediterranean, in close proximity to Syria where a civil conflict has been underway for four years already. A UK military base is stationed on the island, and London has already offered Paris to use it in the framework of the anti-terrorist coalition.

The Cyprus itself has an important place on the international agenda since 1974 when the island was divided into two parts - Greek and Turkish. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Ankara. Nicosia earlier put forward an initiative to boost efforts on settling the conflict and reach consensus by May 2016. Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Russia will welcome the agreement "the sooner the better."

Cyprus has traditionally been Russia’s economic partner. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the volume of Cyprus direct investment into the Russian economy has been accumulated to reach almost $200 billion by the start of 2015. At the same time, more than 80% of foreign investment into the economy of Cyprus come from Russia. However, as a result of European Union’s sanctions against Russia and Moscow’s reciprocal measures in 2014, trade turnover has sharply decreased by 66.8% The downward trend continued into the first months of 2015. Possible measures to counter this tendency will be on top of the agenda at the talks between Moscow and Nicosia. A broader range of issues concerning Russian-EU relations will also be touched upon. This becomes especially relevant ahead of the EU summit on December 17-18 where the European leaders will make a decision on whether to extend sanctions against Russia.

Next stop Belgrade

After his visit to Cyprus, Lavrov will fly to Belgrade to take part in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Ministerial Council on December 3-4. Russia expects active discussion of issues of fighting against terrorism at this international forum, including of joining efforts to counter this threat. Lavrov traditionally holds bilateral meetings with colleagues from different countries on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council.

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