Explaining the White House’s interest in the small island which is struggling to get out of the economic crisis, a state official said Cyprus could play a major role in ensuring regional peace and said he was satisfied the island supported the EU consensus over sanctions against Russia. He promised Biden would discuss continuation of the sanction regime in detail with President Nicos Anastasiades.
The US is exerting pressure on Cyprus, which until recently took a more than moderate position on strict economic measures against Russia. Nicosia supported the first and second phases of the EU sanctions - suspension of visa and cooperation negotiations as well as expansion of the sanction list, yet resists real sanctions bound to affect the economy.
Cyprus’s foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on May 15 that expansion of the US and EU sanctions to the Russian financial sector would do irreparable harm to the island’s economy closely tied with Russia. Anastasiades warned they would endanger the entire anti-crisis program in Cyrpus agreed upon with the troika of international lenders.
A day ahead of Biden’s visit, neither the government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides, nor Anastasiades said in public sanctions against Russia were on the agenda.
As became clear from the president’s statement on Tuesday, he is concerned about Biden’s intent to visit the Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus and meet the leader of the Turkish Cypriots.