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Military base in Cyprus not on agenda of Russian, Cypriot top diplomats talks

October 31, 2016, 11:35 updated at: October 31, 2016, 12:54 UTC+3
Russia’s military bases in Hmeymim and Tartus are enough to conduct counterterrorist operation in Syria, Sergey Lavrov says
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© AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. Moscow and Nicosia did not discuss the issue on deploying Russian military bases to Cyprus, the republic’s Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Monday.

"You say that the issue on Russian military bases has been widely discussed in mass media," the minister said. "I’m afraid it was discussed only in mass media, I don’t think this was discussed by the representatives of government circles."

"Real life showed that Russia can come to Syria without any bases," Kasoulides said, answering a question how Cyprus could help Russia in the fight against international terrorism taking into account its geographic location.

Lavrov confirmed that the issue was not discussed. "We have discussed nothing of the kind. In principle, the vessels of the Russian Navy use the ports of Cyprus, but without any special services," Lavrov said. "I don’t remember that this issue has been ever discussed between the Republic of Cyprus and us."

Lavrov went on to say that Russia’s military bases in Hmeymim and Tartus are enough to conduct counterterrorist operation in Syria.

"The location of our bases in Hmeymim and Tartus is rather favorable, so we can ensure the necessary parameters of the counterterrorist operation conducted at the request of the Syrian government," the minister said.

All foreign troops must be withdrawn from Cyprus, Kasoulidis went on.

"I must brief you on the latest events that occurred in the course of the settlement of the Cyprus problem," he said. "In particular, this concerns the matter of security. It is the most important chapter for us in any solution. We know that Russia’s stance is identical to ours in that the institution of guarantees must be eliminated and all foreign troops withdrawn from Cyprus."

He added that Russia as a UN Security Council member had always adhered to high-principled positions and kept pressing for them today.

Russia-Cyprus ties

Sergey Lavrov told his Cypriot counterpart that the development of relations and cooperation between Russia and Cyprus don’t depend on the current political environment.

"We regularly communicate at various levels, and this underlines that our political dialog is trust-based and of special character," Lavrov said. "Last year we celebrated 55 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations and all these years once again laid emphasis that our cooperation and development of bilateral relations do not depend on the political environment."

According to Lavrov, Russia calls on the United Nations not to impose its vision of Cyprus settlement on Cyprus.

"We are committed to the resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council in support of the Cyprus settlement on the basis of agreements between the two communities," Lavrov said. "We remain to be committed to these positions."

"The problem of how to ensure security of the united Cypriot state is to be solved by the Cypriot sides," he said. "We will respect any position and any agreements that will be reached."

The Russian top diplomat warned against "attempts to deliberately impose on the Cypriots any solutions that might be beneficial for this or that foreign player." "At this stage we know the position of the Republic of Cyprus and think that this position should be duly reckoned with," Lavrov stressed.

"We insist that the United States and UN special adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide stop trying to artificially appoint timeframes for reaching agreements and imposing solutions that are rejected by any of the parties to the Cypriot settlement," the Russian foreign minister said.

"We believe that any outside interference into Cyprus’ affairs, any attempts to exert pressure on the parties are counterproductive and may instead throw back the efforts of the parties to the Cypriot settlement towards a compromise solution," he added.

Cyprus has been divided into two parts since 1974 after Turkey 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 U.N.-brokered negotiations for decades.

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