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Russia, Cyprus presidents to discuss financial, military cooperation, Ukraine crisis

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, currently on an official visit to Russia

MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. Leaders of Russia and Cyprus will meet for talks in Moscow on Wednesday, the Kremlin press service said.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, currently on an official visit to Russia, is expected to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin "a whole range of bilateral issues, including aspects of financial, military and military-technical cooperation", the Kremlin said.

"There are plans to touch on prospects for a Cyprus settlement and problems with a dialogue between Russia and the EU, including in the context of the Ukraine crisis," it said. "The leaders of the two countries are expected to discuss plans to boost coordination in the United Nations, the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] and other international institutions."

Anastasiades’ visit to Russia, which started on Tuesday, will last until February 27. The Cypriot president is also due to meet Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the speakers of Russia’s lower and upper houses of parliament, Sergey Naryshkin and Valentina Matviyenko, and St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko.

The two sides are planning to sign eleven documents, including a joint programme of action for 2014-2017, intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in the fight against terrorism and illicit drug trafficking and military cooperation as well as several interagency memoranda in military, science and investment spheres.

Anastasiades said in an interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman that his trip to Russia would be "one of the most important foreign visits for him."

"I hope that this visit will contribute to deeper ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin whom I met in Milan [on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on October 16, 2014]," Anastasiades said. "I consider Putin to be a sincere, straightforward and charismatic person who knows how to establish relations with his interlocutors," he added.

Speaking about the planned military accord between the two countries, the Cypriot leader said this was about the possibility of using airports and seaports of the republic by Russian warplanes and warships in humanitarian operations and emergencies.

The Kremlin noted that Cyprus remained one of the leading channels to attract foreign investments into the Russian economy. The volume of Cypriot accumulated investments in Russia totals $65 billion, while Cyprus has accumulated $33 billion of Russian investments.

Trade turnover between the two countries is not very high. According to Russia’s federal customs service, two-way trade reached $653.3 million last year, down 66.8% compared to the previous year.

"The decline in figures is primarily associated with energy market volatility, falling oil prices and crisis phenomena in the Eurozone alongside sanctions pressure on Russia followed by retaliatory counter-sanctions targeting Cypriot agricultural products," the Kremlin said.

Russian authorities help the island state to settle its debt crisis. In 2011, Russia lent Cyprus 2.5 billion euros for five years, with an annual interest rate of 4.5% In 2013, amid the economic crisis, the island’s government asked Moscow to restructure the loan. Russia agreed to extend the maturity until 2021 and to cut interest rate to 2.5%

Cyprus’ ambassador to Russia Georgios Kasoulides told TASS on Tuesday the republic would not ask for another restructuring on the loan it received from Russia and would meet its obligations on time.