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NICOSIA, May 18. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is arriving in the Republic of Cyprus on Thursday for a working visit, which will last until May 20.
This will be a full-fledged bilateral visit, during which Lavrov will hold talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulidis. Lavrov will also take part in a session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said earlier.
A broad range of bilateral, regional and international issues will be discussed at Lavrov’s talks with the Cypriot leadership, the Foreign Ministry said. "An exchange of views on prospects of cooperation between Russia and the European Union will be held," it said. The sides will also discuss the situation in Syria and in the Middle East region in general, and the Ukrainian crisis.
Moscow and Nicosia are also interested in searching for solutions to mending trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, which declined due to the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory measures.
Special attention will be paid to talks between communities under the Cyprus settlement process.
Cyprus has been divided into two parts since 1974 after Turkey’s invasion of the northern part of the island that followed a state coup staged by supporters of Cyprus’ unification with Greece. As a result of combat operations, Turkey won control of about 37% of the island’s territory where the Turkish Cypriot community unilaterally declared independence and formed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983. Turkey is the guarantor for Northern Cyprus while the island’s southern part constitutes the Republic of Cyprus populated primarily by Greek Cypriots. The two communities have been holding UN-brokered negotiations for decades.
Moscow has repeatedly said that it is ready to support "any agreements which the Cypriots would reach between the two communities," but some Western mass media claimed that Russia attempts to stall the negotiation process. Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said these claims "are not supported by any facts and are simply absurd."
Moscow stresses that the relations with Nicosia are developing in the atmosphere of traditional friendship and mutual sympathy. "Positions of Russia and Cyprus on many issues coincide or are close," the Foreign Ministry said. "Both countries call for the soonest return to a constructive dialogue between Russia and the EU, for enhancing the central role of the UN in international relations as a universal institute of maintaining peace and security and for collective response actions of the entire community against such modern challenges as international terrorism, transborder organized crime and drug trafficking."
The ministry also noted that there is an increased demand of Russian tourists for going for holidays to Cyprus. According to the Association of Tour Operators in Russia, the number of requests of Russian citizens for tour packages in Cyprus has grown by 39.5% compared with March. Last year, some 800,000 Russians visited the country.
"The visit of minister (Lavrov) to the Republic of Cyprus will no doubt serve to strengthen cooperation and further rapprochement between our countries and people," the ministry said.
The ministerial session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE) will be held in Nicosia on May 18-20. After the session, Cyprus will hand over CMCE chairmanship to the Czech Republic. On the sidelines of the session, Lavrov is expected to meet with Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland.